Past Midway Ramblings on Business & Life

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Why You Probably Won’t Make Money Trading

In the late 1990’s, a work colleague of mine in the engineering department at GE occupied much of his time trading financial instruments. In particular, he liked trading call options on the technology company 3COM. Although manufacturing engineering was his day job, he apparently thought day trading was more interesting. Understandable. It also seemed he had prescient timing with his trades...

The Totality of Fun – Continued

This is the third part in a four-part series. My first post on this topic introduced the three component parts of fun. The second post in this series introduced the Totality of Fun and discussed Part 2 Fun in more detail. Today, I finish my thoughts on the Totality of Fun by elaborating on Part 1 and Part 3 Fun. I also highlight how all this leads into a particular dilemma with Alzheimer’s, a...

The Totality of Fun

This is the second installment in a four-post series. In my last post, I introduced the three component parts of fun: Part 1 – Anticipating the fun Part 2 – Doing the fun Part 3 – Remembering & Reminiscing about the fun …and promised next a discussion about The Totality of Fun, which follows, with numerous digressions (and regressions) along the way. In other words, this one...

Components of Fun

The prevalence of Alzheimer’s, including my own father’s, led me to think more about what it means to have fun and to enjoy life, topics I have pondered for decades. Outline Writing about this topic became considerably more involved than I had first anticipated, so I have divided it into three separate posts: Post 1 (today) introduces the component parts of fun and how we perceive them...

Incentives (Gone Wrong)

When I worked at General Electric in the engineering Product Cost Takeout role, management got an idea to incentivize us to save the company as much money as possible. As it was initially presented to us (verbally), the company would pay engineers 10% of the annual savings from our cost-reduction projects as a one-time, year-end bonus. It was early in the year, but I was already lining up about...

Integrity in M&A

This update points to a story I wrote on my professional blog. It would have been better on this forum, which didn’t exist at the time. Years ago, a defining interaction happened around a large conference room table as we were negotiating the final points on an M&A deal. This is a story of unusual integrity and transparency in business. It was a beautiful moment and I learned from it. I...

Efficient Markets, Pricing Anomalies – Chicken Little & Donkeys

When I was completing my MBA in Finance at the Stockholm School of Economics in the late 1990’s, the rumor was that one of our professors had discovered a pricing anomaly in the Stockholm Stock Exchange and had made a sizable amount of money in a pure arbitrage play. Because the details were scarce, I wondered if this was true. And, more importantly, why can’t this happen to me? It did. Read on…...

4-Plex – Worth It

Part 5 of a 5-part series… This is the final continuation of the story about the 4-plex we owned in Austin, TX. The one with the crystal meth, swarming bees, grow lights, electricity theft & spy cameras, the flood and termites. But there’s more to this story because… The value of the 4-plex was hidden, as are many things in life. Even though we had all these challenges (and more) with this...

4-Plex – Flood

Part 4 of a 5-part series… This is a continuation of the story about the 4-plex we owned in Austin, TX. The one with the crystal meth, swarming bees, grow lights, electricity theft & spy cameras. Same property. Water Damage We also had a flood. Not the natural kind where a stream crests its bank during a heavy rain and water creeps in the front door. No. We had the toilet kind. Overflowed for...

4-Plex – Grow Lights, Electricity Theft & Spy Cameras

Part 3 of a 5-part series… This is a continuation of the story about the 4-plex we owned in Austin, TX. The one with the crystal meth (Part 1) and swarming bees (Part 2). Same property. A resident called to tell me his electric bill was running $350/month. That’s way too high for a small 2-bedroom apartment. I agreed. The main source of electricity consumption is the air conditioner. We figured...

4-Plex – Bees

Part 2 of a 5-part series… (read Part 1) This is a continuation of the story about the 4-plex we owned in Austin, TX. The one with the crystal meth. Same property. Different day. Bees I got a call from the tenant in unit A. He said there were a lot of bees outside the main entrance and I should come take care of it because it was dangerous, especially for the kids. Nice of him to...

4-Plex – Crystal Meth

Part 1 of a 5-part series… I stopped to talk to a friend I haven’t seen in a while at the grocery store the other day. As the conversation meandered, he mentioned he was considering buying rental property. I had some limited experience with this and shared a few stories with him, one of which I recount below. 4-Plex On a whim, I purchased a 4-plex apartment building in Austin, TX. This was a dumb...

My Father Knew He was Fallible

For years, my father kept a slip of paper in his wallet, torn from a small 3 x 5 spiral notebook. On it, strangely, was a simple geometric sketch and a calculation of how far a 6-foot person could see before the horizon drops off due to the curvature of the earth. This is a curious thing to keep in one’s wallet. Backstory My dad and my older brother (a teenager at the time) made this calculation...

Overthinking a Solution

While working on my Master’s degree in Acoustics at Penn State, our lab professor (we’ll call him “Dr. Dave”) wrote a computer program in C to randomly place students in different teams for each lab throughout the semester. This would prevent us from working with the same people every week. A high-tech solution to completely randomize lab teams for the whole semester at the push of a button...

From Engineering To Finance

After an undergraduate degree in mechanical engineering, a Master’s degree in acoustics (also engineering) and working as an engineer at General Electric for three and a half years, I realized I really didn’t enjoy engineering. While I learned a lot at my time at General Electric, especially in project management, engineering just didn’t excite me, at all. I was also discovering that I had an...

Bear Endings

May 2002. London. After only 13 months with Bear Stearns, my desk phone rang. It was the corner office. The Assistant was calling to tell me that “Jeremy would like to meet with you in the conference room.”. Just minutes before, even though we all knew layoffs were on-going, I had been helping a more junior Analyst named Allen work through a financial model. Although work had all but ceased on...

The Farm to Bear

I worked on the 44th floor in the tallest building in London as an investment banker for the now-defunct Bear Stearns. It was 2001. I was 29 and making money in excess of my contribution, feeling like I was on my way to professional and financial success. Not as a Master of the Universe, but to an early retirement. Although the hours at Bear Stearns were long, the work was engaging, and the...

Past Midway Ramblings on Business & Life

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