Penny Stocks Advice: The one thing you need to know.

During the mid-aughts, fresh out of college, young, single and flush with cash I decide to invest in penny stocks. Penny stocks typically trade for, you guessed it, in the pennies for each share. They are very risky, trade Over-the-Counter (that is the name of the stock ‘exchange’ where they trade in, sometimes it is referred to as the ‘Pink Sheets’), and are lightly regulated. The lack of regulation makes them a susceptible for various fraud schemes such as the classic, ‘pump-and-dump’. However, if the right penny-stock begins to increase the margins for profit (on such a small investment) could be in the thousands!

Either way, I had invested about 500 dollars into a penny-stock called LOGO that was seeking to create a gay/lesbian themed TV network. I used to follow the stock and post in penny-stock forums and discuss the pitfalls, buy-points, sell-points of various penny-stocks (including LOGO). Thinking back on it, it wouldn’t surprise me if some of those people were plants, operating an online version of a “boiler-room”.

When I met with my financial adviser she gave me this look of horror and disgust. When I couldn’t explain to her why I bought Penny-Stocks or why I selected LOGO, her and I agreed to sell my penny-stocks and invest in mutual funds (which have since earned more money than my penny-stock).

Now, LOGO TV is actually a channel, though I am not sure whatever became of the penny-stock.

I write this post because Bloomberg Business has a great article that represents a ‘case-study’ on the perils and profits of penny-stocks.

Cynk was a company with 1 employee, no assets, and 0 revenue that became worth 6 billion dollars.

Cynk: The 6 Billion Dollar Penny Stock Debacle

The take-away from my experience with Penny-Stocks (and what one person in the aforementioned article calls them) is that they should be treated as Lottery-Picks. If you like investing and want to invest in penny-stocks than do so but do so with moderation (500 dollars was way too much) and with the understanding that you are properly getting taken for ride and will not win.

Diplomacy: Destroyer of Friends

Diplomacy is a strategy board-game whereas you try to control supply depots, build armies and navies, and attempt to conquer Europe by controlling 18 depots. It takes place in pre-WW1 Europe with the Seven Great Powers: Ottoman Empire, Russia, England, Germany, Austria-Hungary[affectionately called AH], France, and Italy [I won’t give the nickname used to describe Italy as it is not appropriate].

Diplomacy Current Release

Diplomacy Current Release

What makes Diplomacy different is that in order to win you have to work together, collaborate, coordinate and build-trust with other nations in order for you to achieve. Implicitly, of course, is the notion that your “allies” could easily turn on you, stab you in the back, not support you, and all-around sabotage your actions.

This is way diplomacy is often described as a “friend-destroyer” because you play the game with your friends, use your friendship to build-trust, and than stab your friend in the back.

I was introduced to Diplomacy at a very young age. I recall hanging out in the basement of one of my friends playing the game and enjoying the political elements of it such as: strategy and alliance-building. Now that my friends and I have moved to various cities, we have migrated to diplomacy smart-phone apps such as: Droidippy to play the game.

Some links for Diplomacy Lovers:

Boardgame Geek Diplomacy

Diplomacy Boardgame of the Alpha Nerd: A radio story sponsored by Grantland and broadcast on NPR. Takes place during the Diplomacy World Championship.

Allan Calhamer Inventor

 

 

 

Crawlspace: 5 Important Considerations

My wife and I purchased a property here in Virginia that came with a crawlspace. Now, for those of you who are not from Virginia, houses here rarely come with basements. The houses are either built on a slab (a concrete pad that serves as the foundation with the frame built off of it) or a crawlspace (a space beneath the house that one must crawl under). Crawlspaces exist because the house has been elevated off the ground through the use of concrete blocks (thus creating a space beneath the house).

Crawlspace

Crawlspace (taken from www.foundationmaster.com

Slab

Slab (taken from How Stuff Works)

Following our purchase my wife and I had to do a lot of work in the crawlspace and from all of our work and research here is what we learned:

 

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Why Teachers Quit: A New Study

New research from the Alliance for Excellent Education on the teaching profession has recently come out. Pretty much says the same stuff that every survey or analysis of the teaching profession says, namely teachers quit for one of three reasons: low Pay, lack of collaboration, lack of administrative support.  One interesting conclusion does jump-out:

“Since the mid-1980s the significant expansion of the teaching workforce has been accompanied by increased turnover among beginning teachers.”

This implies a revolving-door for the teaching profession: more first-year teachers come in, teach for a couple-years, leave, only to be replaced by more first-year teaches. While this may come as a shock, it simply mimics economic conditions:  a decline of middle-class professions (of which teaching is rapidly becoming neither) and an emphasis on short-term gains at the expense of long-term investment.

I was fortunate that I had a solid first-three years with some great mentors. However, the fault-lines of a decade of teaching are getting wider and wider each year with no end in sight.

See also an NPR article that covers some of what has been discussed:

The Teacher Drop-out Crisis

Why?

I’ve actually published a couple personal blogs before (some on reenacting and others on history and one on my internship in DC) but they all seemed to narrowly focused on a subject matter which caused me to lose interest or were published with an idea of making money off it.

This blog is different as I will post stuff I find interesting.