Monday, December 21, 2009

Caleb's Two Wheeled Lego Tractor

Caleb made this without any directions. Pretty cool, huh? Be sure to watch the video below.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Caleb's Photo Story (3rd Grade)

Caleb read a book, and retold the story in his own words along with these pictures.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

November Bike Ride

After being off work for the last 8 days, I should have been trying to catch up for the upcoming home stretch to Christmas. But instead, we enjoyed the nice weather with a bike ride. Back to real world grindstone tomorrow.

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Sunday, November 8, 2009

Fall Outing Year 2

Here we are at the Y Guides Fall Outing. This year is our 2nd and so we hold torches while the first year dads and kids march through. Right now we are waiting for the lighting of our torches.

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Wednesday, October 21, 2009

And the Shirts Go to...

Well not everyone had the same answers as me (see comments in post below)... but some were close. To solve this riddle, we need to start with what we know about the boys.

Luke hoards money and is frequently making deals to get more money. He thinks he should be paid for getting out of bed in the morning. He will go to the store to buy a $30 item, and will leverage parental equity to pay for the sales taxes. He also is giving and has been known to give money to parents, grandparents, and brothers. B-School for Luke.

Caleb... Legos... Legos... Legos... Never concerned too much about money. Likes to read intricate Lego procedures in his spare time. A little eccentric and not concerned about what he wears. Focused on the task at hand (when it's something he wants to do). Strong in science in school - to heck with everything else. Likes to help people. Med School for Caleb.

Seth... Could do anything, I think, but there is a sense of justice and logic to him. Having two younger brothers who tend to cause him some issues on occasion, Seth has to argue his position often, and is usually pretty calm and level-headed. Often is able to identify how brothers have wronged him in some way, and convincingly proclaims his innocence in the matter. Law School for Seth.

Of course, I would not be disappointed if I have all this wrong. All of these are tough fields of study followed by time-consuming careers. I just want each of them discover God's will on their own, and to make the best of their lives by living that out.

So where's the engineer and jewelry designer in the family? I guess that is Dad and Mom! And I'm still thinking about opening that hot dog stand in the shallow waters of the Keys in Florida.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

IBM Business Insights at Harvard

This week I am at the subject class in Boston. Today we got done a little early so I got over to the main campus - pictured here at Harvard Yard. This is a great experience, the likes of which I hope someday my boys can receive. Tonight, however, I have a lot of homework!

While at Harvard, I went to their "Harvard Coop" store which is where they have a bazillion shirts and other logo merchandise. I accomplished my mission buying shirts for my boys. Since I don't "really" go to Harvard, I guess it would be pretentious for me to wear their brand, especially since they are certainly not known for their sports teams. However, buying shirts for the kids allows me to live vicariously through them, as well as encourage them to strive for making the grades to go to such an extravagantly expensive, but distinguished, school. I guess every parent wants their kids to accomplish more than they did, so I guess I'm settling into that mode myself. So while I would shudder to think about paying for that sort of college for 1 to 3 children, I would try to find a way if that challenge ever presented itself.

So I bought 3 shirts... one was Harvard Business School, one was Harvard Law School, and the other Harvard Medical School - each one carefully selected to fit the personality of one of our boys, though perhaps not their bodies due to the lack of child sizes. So for those who know Seth, Caleb, and Luke: Who gets which shirt? Post a comment here with your guess (and why), and I'll answer later with my choices.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Carter Finley Stadium... NCSU vs. USC

Been a while since I've been here.

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Sunday, July 5, 2009

Mario Cart Wiiiiiii !

Luke & Justin playing the Wii at the beach. Fun vacation for everyone!

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Sunday, June 14, 2009

Chinese Jewelry Maker FUQI

Last week was pretty blah for my investing strategies. My biggest frustration was Chinese jewelry maker FUQI, which I had bought last Friday 6/5 at $14.90, and watched climb $18.70 (25%) by noon Wednesday. Then it started a dive that lasted into Thursday. My trailing stop loss order kicked in and I got out with a nice 18% profit after 4 days, selling out at $17.64! The stock retreated all the way down to $16, then started back up. (This is when you usually yell at the horror movie actors, "DON'T GO BACK IN THAT SCARY HOUSE, YOU FOOL!") So... I got back in at $17.35. Minutes later... the stock took another turn, and headed down. It waffled the rest of Thursday, and then started a dive Friday again... all the way down to $14.81 where I sold out again around noon. Minutes later, the stock turned back up and closed at a respectable $16.80. Jason Jason Jason Jason... Kill kill kill kill.... I made about 100 bucks, after commissions for 4 trades. That's 2.8% for a week, which in retrospect is not bad.

For the week, the Dow was up 0.4% and the NASDAQ up 0.5%. I got into several top IBD "top 10" stocks this week, and the only one that ended the week up after I bought it was Neutral Tandem (TNDM). There are several of the top IBD stocks which have experienced pull backs this past week. One that is closest to its 10 week average is World Fuel Services (INT). When a growing stock tests and holds up at its 10 week average (chart arrow), this is a sign of strength that the stock may follow through with a breakout. So I will consider getting into this one this week, as the fundamental data for this one is pretty good. And if FUQI drops back in the $15-$16 range... I may jump back into that one as well. It's #1 on the IBD 100 list this week (6/12).

So that's all I know this week. I'm still relatively clueless, but I am enjoying learning some new analysis techniques.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Investor's Business Daily 100

I have been catching up on some long-needed investment analysis these last few weeks. After reading William O'Neill's "The Successful Investor" I have since subscribed to a 4 week trial of the paper he founded, "Investor Business Daily", and have been studying that along with the numerous resources on their website at I've also purchased and am reading his newest, and 4th edition, of "How to Make Money in Stocks". Someday I might write more about what I am learning, but right now, I'm just going to talk about a few data points I've seen.

First of all, several of the stocks I've purchased in the last few weeks, based on finding something positive about them on IBD, have done OK since I've bought them. Green Mountain Coffee Roasters (GMCR) and Tessera Technologies Inc (TSRA) have particularly done well, wheras I've got one loser in A-Power Energy Generation Systems (APWR). Here are the results thus far as compared to the DJIA over the same period through end of day June 5.
Bought Symbol Days Held Change DJIA
27-May ASIA 8 3.99% 3.42%
27-May TSRA 8 22.74% 3.42%
28-May VRX 7 1.70% 5.58%
29-May GMCR 6 9.42% 4.28%
3-Jun APWR 3 -7.32% 0.25%
5-Jun FUQI 1 4.04% 0.15%

So I've got 2, maybe 3 winners, and 1 loser. That's not bad... and yes I know this is a small data point over a short period of time.

So as I start this new week, I decided to try to pick some other choice IBD stocks to take positions in. To do this I was looking at the Investor's Business Daily (IBD) weekly papers from 5/29 and 6/5... I downloaded from their website a spreadsheet of the 6/5 IBD 100... then I went back and added in some data from the 5/29 week just to see if the list has any merit. Note that last week, the Dow went up 3.1% and the NASDAQ 4.2%... so even a monkee could have done well picking stocks last week.

As it turned out, 17 out of the top 20 (from 5/29) were positive for the week (6/1 - 6/5). Thirteen out of 20 beat the NASDAQ's 4.2%. Eleven of the top 12 did. The average gain of the Top 10 was 8.5%, more than double that of the NASDAQ.

I highlighted in yellow the stocks I'm going to keep an eye on. And there were two that I plan on buying this week, shown in green. Newmarket Corp (NEU) and (CTRP). Both moved up in position in the IBD 100 rankings, and had nice gains for the week. Both exhibit that there is a lot of institutional investors (ie mutual funds) accumulating positions.

So let's see how well I do.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Backyard Campout 2009

Tonight was campout in the backyard night. Supposed to be low of 61 so that should be nice. This time we brought out a DVD player and 24" TV. About time to go to sleep now. Goodnight.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Caleb Completed a 5K Race!

Caleb and I ran/walked a 5k race this morning at the Y Guides Spring Outing. I was extremely proud of him! He made it the whole way.

The race time was at 8am and at 7:45 he was still in bed and refusing to get up. With bribery of a donut in bed, I coaxed him into agreeing to at least walk to the race start. He vowed the entire way that he would not do the race. He wanted to swim, play on the playground, or anything other than walking or running for 3.1 miles.

On the way to the flag pole, the meeting place for the racers about 300 yards from our cabin, Caleb fussed and dragged his feet. On the way, I was polling other dads to see if they were planning to run, and if not, perhaps Caleb could hang out with them and their sons (thus defeating the whole purpose of this father-son weekend). I really wanted to run (or walk) in this race myself. I originally had my iPod ready to go, to fade into my own world of run-tertainment, especially since I had barely put 5 miles on my new running shoes in all of 2009. But doing this alone didn't feel right. So we proceeded to the flag pole, with Caleb in tow, while I was still trying to reason how I could have my cake and eat it too. The raceway was essentially 3 times around the trail which encircles all of Camp Seafarer, with each loop being 1 mile. My plan was to just get him to start the race, and then perhaps I could let him take a break at a playground, while I made another lap around the campground.

Several other dads in our tribe were also participating in the race. Brown Bear, the camp director, gave us instructions. Dads and sons must stay together, whether walking or running or stopping. She moved us over to the real starting point... the giant boat anchor in the road over there behind that building. That would be the starting point, mile marker, and finish line. Humans who complete the race get a cool 5k race patch for their Y-Guides vest. There were only about 40 dads and sons participating in total, out of about 400-600 in the whole camp - so this would indeed be a special accomplishment for those who braved the 72 degree May morning by the slightly breezy North Carolina intercoastal waterway (read, "perfect morning").

We pinned on our race numbers and then the race started. All the boys took off at 100-yard dash pace, while dads hollered, "Slow down! Pace yourself!" repeatedly. Caleb was right behind them trying to catch up to the speedsters. Eventually he slowed down as did the many other boys, and the race was underway at a more reasonable pace.

Caleb was wearing Crocs... and, get this... with NO socks. I had a pair of socks in my pocket in case he changed his mind. I asked him many times if he wanted my pocket socks for his Crocs, but no Croc pocket socks - Caleb was happy with his sock-less Crocs. So at that point I had resigned myself to run or walk as far as Caleb wanted, and then quit whenever he gave up or fussed at an unbearable level. But off we went. He would run for 20-40 yards, and then walk. And I was right there with him. I actually appreciated the fast/slow pace he was setting.

Soon we discovered that Craig and Kyle, another father-son pair, were travelling at about the same pace as us. Caleb seemed to want to stay ahead of Kyle. Everytime Caleb would walk, Kyle would catch up. Then Caleb would start running again - long enough to put 20-30 yards between him and Kyle. This seemed to be motivating to Caleb, who typically does not have a competetive bone in his body, at least not when it comes to sports. It also kept Kyle going.

After 10 minutes of this cat and mouse game with Kyle, I started to think Caleb might make it the whole first lap. I encouraged him to keep it up, and told him how great he was doing. He just kept going and going. Craig called him the Energizer Bunny for his persistence. I kept asking, "Are you OK? Anything hurting? Do you want my pocket socks for your sock-less Crocs?" and Caleb just said "No" and kept on going.

Well, we made it through the first lap, and I was just so amazed, as we had far exceeded my wildest expectations! Brown Bear commented over the loud speaker, "Here comes someone with Crocs!" I thought maybe Caleb would want to stop, but he kept going, and Kyle was right on his tail. He confirmed that there were only 2 more times around like this one, and so we kept on going. Back and forth he and Kyle went, with Caleb mostly staying out front. I thought about throwing in a $20 bribe. "If you make it all the way, I'll give you $20." But I decided not to play that card unless necessary.

As we got near the 1.75 mile point, we were near our cabin. I signaled to our fans (Russ and Jack) that we needed some water. So they ran and got several water bottles. Then I showed Caleb how you get to pour water on your head to cool off when you're running... So we did that.

As we got near the 2 mile mark, back at the anchor, Caleb's right sockless Croc fell off. Since Kyle was nearby, he didn't stop to put it back on, but instead carried the right sockless Croc in his hand, and ran barefooted with one Croc on the other foot. He maintained his lead over Kyle, as he crossed the 2 mile line as Brown Bear said "You can even run this race with ONE Croc!" (There were people hanging around the anchor watching the race drama by this time.) Caleb's determination and focus was amazing. He did put his Croc back on at the start of lap 3.

So we kept on going, and going, and going. I asked many times about needing a sock for his sockless Crocs, but he declined. He said that his side was hurting some, but otherwise, he kept on going. Near the 2.75 mile mark he took a big shortcut, which was perfectly understandable, but Kyle kept going on the main trail. Caleb eventually tired out and actually sat down on the trail about 30 yards short of the finish line. He said his side was still hurting. Kyle ran on past, and finished the race. Then Caleb got up and ran on across as well. He didn't seem to care that Kyle edged him out at the end. But he DID IT. And got the patch. And so did I.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Relaxing and Reading

On our recent 2-day weekend beach trip, I actually got some time to read in peace,
during the daytime, and while not half asleep. It was Sunday morning before breakfast. The sun was up and so I made a makeshift screen using a chaise lounge chair, to block the brightness from my face. It was still a bit chilly, but a sweater was all that was needed to keep me warm. Lori brought out some coffee, and I found a way to combine the function of my reading glasses and my sunglasses. I kicked back to read my new ESV Study Bible - without rushing, without an agenda, without a time constraint, without a study guide, without a bible study lesson to prepare for my Life Group, and without being exhausted after a long day at work. The waves crashed continuously, as I read 1 Timothy as it was written - as a letter from one person to another. I wrote notes in the margins about things I wanted to investigate further. I underlined key passages. Then I started back over and made some progress in reading the study notes. I could have done this for hours. With a family inside, and breakfast cooking, the quiet time didn't last long, but it was nice while it did. Later, Caleb decorated my coffee table with sea shells and rocks, and Luke left a partially eaten apple. I thought that scene made a nice memory - one that I hope to recreate many times in the future. I love the beach.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Leading NJ 2-1 in 2nd Period

This time we're in the IBM booth. Currently leading 2-0 but with 2 man disadvantage... nevermind... now we're leading 2-1. Having fun!

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Friday, March 6, 2009

Hat trick for Ray Whitney!

Canes leading the Calgary Flames 6-0 in the 3rd period.

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Tuesday, February 17, 2009

ABC Channel 11

We're at channel 11!

This afternoon, our Y-Guides gang got to go to WTVD Channel 11 and take a tour of the studios and watch them do the 5pm news. We met Larry Stogner, Steve Daniels, and the weather dude. Will post more pictures later.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Disney Tips I Want to Remember

I am leaving myself this blog post in the event we ever go to Disney World again....

We finally got back from our week long journey today. Let's see... To go from Cary to Orlando took 11 hours and 2 tanks of gas and two meals, totalling about $100. To return from Orlando took 29 hours and 2 tanks of gas and one hotel night and several meals, totalling about $300. Note to self: Use the same strategy and planning for the return trip as was used for the arrival trip.

For the trip TO Orlando, we left at 3:30am, everyone slept until about 8am, and we arrived by 2:30pm. For the return trip we left around 11:30am, decided at the last minute to NOT visit another park, and hit the road with intentions of making it home by 11pm, after visiting a family friend in Daytona. We had to stop several times as our bathroom cycles were all out of sync. And after 8 grueling hours and 300 miles, we were barely in Georgia. We decided to stop in Savannah for the night, went to Tony Roma's for one last nice vacation dinner, and then left this morning. It pains me to recount how much it felt like rowing uphill into the wind for the remaining 5 hours with 3 wide awake restless boys in the car. The Xbox, DS, and endless videos did little to keep the peace, as there was always something to argue about.

While at Disney, here were the "logistical" things I want to remember...
  1. There are about a dozen Disney hotels on their property. They provide bus transportation between all of them and all the 4 Disney parks (plus Downtown Disney). At the place we stayed, Fort Wilderness Campground Cabins, they have 3 bus lines that run a continuous loop around the neighborhood and the "outpost" where you connect to the 4 park buses. Our wait time for a bus was anywhere from 0 to 25 minutes. The average was probably about 10-15. Parking for cars at the parks was $12 and we wondered if cars staying at a Disney resort had to pay. I bet they would.

  2. There is also monorail transportation between some of the resorts (The Contemporary, for example) and Magic Kingdom. There is also monorail between MK and Epcot.There is also boat transportation from some of the resorts (Fort Wilderness, for example) and MK.

    Therefore, to go from FW to Epcot, we could go FW neighborhood bus - to FW outpost - to Epcot. OR... FW bus to FW marina - marina to MK - monorail to MK main station - then other monorail to Epcot. The transportation possibilities are endless, and the variety is nice.

  3. Getting from one resort to another is a bit challenging. There are some cases where the monorail or boat will do the trick. Otherwise, you will have to go from resort to a park (any park - perhaps one in between would be best) and then from that park to the other resort.

  4. At Downtown Disney, there are 2 bus stops. One at one end, and the other at the Pleasure Island end, which is closer to the middle, and Planet Hollywood. Decide ahead of time which stop you need.

  5. Each park offers lockers so you can store your bag of snacks or different clothes. The cost is $10 and there is a refund of $5 when the key is turned in. After we went to the same park 2 days in a row, it occurred to me that I should have kept my key and used the same locker for 2 days. I asked if the deposit would still be given and I was told YES, but they don't like to advertise that.

  6. Be sure to use the Fast Pass. Here are the rules: Go to a popular ride and insert each admission card into the kiosk. The current time may be 3:05pm and the standby wait may be 70 minutes. The Fast Pass return time may be 5:30pm - 6:30pm. So by getting a Fast Pass, we can come back at 5:30pm and do something else fun from the current time until then - instead of waiting in line for 70 minutes. The catch is that you can only get one Fast Pass per ticket. At that point, you must WAIT for 2 hours OR until the Fast Pass return time, whichever is less. So in the example above, I would be able to get ANOTHER Fast Pass for each ticket at 5:05pm. If the Fast Pass return time was 4:30pm, then I would have been able to get another Fast Pass then (1 hr 25 min after the first Fast Pass). The key is to time it well so that you always have a Fast Pass in hand, AND are prepared to get ANOTHER Fast Pass as soon as you're eligible.

  7. We are late sleepers, and we had a hard time getting into the parks by noon on most days. (Hey, taking it easy is what vacation is all about!) Anyway, on several days, after arriving at a park between 12:30 or 1:30pm, I would immediately rush to the best ride with plans of getting 5 Fast Passes. Several times, I would find that the ride had distributed all the Fast Passes for the day. So arrive early in order to get the best Fast Passes.

  8. The Fast Passes always are for a 1 hour block of time. I asked, and an attendant confirmed, that the end time is actually open. The will let you use a Fast Pass AFTER the expiration time, and this comes in handy when you are on one end of the park when you need to be on the other end for a ride.

  9. I asked if I alone could come to the park early in the morning, and get Fast Passes for my whole crew. Several people told me that all the tickets had to be IN THE SYSTEM in order for the Fast Passes to be distributed. Ie. we all have to be in the park. I never did verify this, but I wouldn't doubt it.

  10. Another Fast Pass opportunity is as follows. I was not able to take advantage of this, as I wasn't thinking at the time. On one occasion, I tried to get a Fast Pass for a ride. The card jammed, and I had to call an attendant. I will say that overall, the cards fail to work about 5-10% of the time. In this case, the kiosk will print out an error card saying that the Fast Pass is not eligible at this time. Then, they usually work on the 2nd try.

    I only had about 2 jams (out of probably 80-90 attempts) where my card got stuck. In this case the attendant has to open the machine and pull out the stuck card. On this one particular time, the attendant asked, "How many Fast Passes do you need?" and then proceeded to click off 5 Fast Passes for me in seconds. Well... what didn't click (in my head!) was that all my 5 tickets were still eligible for Fast Passes! I could have used them again right then on that same ride (different kiosk, and perhaps a few minutes later), or another ride altogether.

  11. Regarding the ticket itself. We purchased five 7 day tickets. After about 3-4 days, each additional day is only $3 per ticket. THEN, they also offer a "Park Hopper" which allows you to go to multiple parks in the same day. Given all the buses, monorails, and/or boats we had to take, and the subsequent wait time, we never found this to be a useful option, and so we didn't purchase this. The Park Hopper is additional $30-50 per ticket. It occurred to me that if we had paid for a 7 day ticket, then could we not use that for 1 park each day for 5 days, and then use our 6th and 7th day ticket both on day 6? I asked about that, and they said that would not work and that we would have to get the Park Hopper to be able to go to more than one park in a day. I never verified this, but I guess that is a loophole they have closed.

  12. If you want to get picked for anything, get near the front row and act like a maniac so that the "volunteer chooser" sees you. This worked for Luke (Jedi Training) and me (Indiana Jones cast member)!

That's all I can think of for now. Overall we had a very fun vacation, though the trip home was not much fun.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Day 4 at Disney World - Jedi Luke

Today we went to Hollywood Studios. The highlight was Luke's training as a Jedi. He got picked along with a few other kids, and got to learn a few light sabre moves. The trainer was really funny, and all the kids loved it. Then Darth Vader came out and each "youngling" got offer to join the Dark Side. Then they got to use their new moves on Vader. It really thrilled Luke, and his family as well.

Disney's Hollywood Studios

Today's highlights included the Tower of Terror, the Aerosmith Rock N Roll Roller Coaster, lunch at the Sci Fi Diner, and Luke getting selected for Jedi training.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Sunday, January 18, 2009

First Day Highlights

We had fun yesterday at Animal Kingdom. The one mishap was that I ripped my pants while rushing through the park trying to get a Fast Pass for an upcoming ride. I ducked between some guy and a shrub, and the shrup won. It's not a problem... I have one more pair of clean jeans that I can wear for 6 days.

The highlight of the day, if it was not the Mt. Everest ride, was the Lego Store at Downtown Disney. The kids really loved that, and I have many pictures stored at this link. Caleb managed to spend all of his fortune on 4 Lego toys... Go figure... we come all the way to Orlando to buy stuff we could have bought at home or online. That's what he's into these days.

This day was Lori's 29th birthday. Diney gives you a $75 merchandise gift card so that was nice. Today is Caleb's b-day, so we will be going to Epcot and probably taking the other birthday option of getting 4 Super Fast Passes.

Having Luke along has been fun this time, though we have been reminded several times why he didn't come last time. Somehow, he is the catalyst for arguments with his older brothers! All in all, we're having FUN!

Our cabin is pretty nice. Not elegant or luxurious at all, but functional and homey. We have about figured out the Disney bus system here, and hopefully our average wait time will improve over time. I'll post some more pictures later.

You can subscribe to this blog by filling in your email on the right at the bottom. That's all for now.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Disney's Animal Kingdom

Today's visit was to Animal Kingdom. This is Mt. Everest, and was the favorite ride of everyone. We also liked the Dinosaur ride. Weather was nice - about 61 degrees.

Friday, January 16, 2009

On the way to Disney World... IN KID STYLE!!

Here we are on the way to Disney World. We left at 3:30am and so the kids and Lori slept for a good 4 hours. After that, we had the X-Box and videos and their Nintendo DS's. Tough life for kids these days.