Covid continues, but the surge appears to have tailed off some. I guess this is the new normal until one of the many "almost-there" vaccines works out.
Erik recently had his pool resurfaced with (approving nod) fiberglass. This may be in my future, so I'm going to go check it out when he hosts an unofficial League of Sport pool vball event. His flyer really encompasses August 2020 and demonstrates a photoshop ability I never knew he had.
The Unnatural Ones are naturally still on hiatus; four dudes in Mark's office is simply not responsible. Plus we already maxed out our irresponsiblity with that use of emoji.
And finally, Rob sent me a hacker news post linking to a post titled "Hunting the Nearly-Invisible Personal Website". Smh at that flex.
The personal website is a somewhat mysterious animal that lives mostly unobserved in the jungle of the Internet. A few inexperienced Internet users who live completely within the golden-walled gardens of Facebook and Google may not even be aware of the species' existence. Other inexperienced users may consider the personal website to be either extinct, like brontosaurus, or a myth, like Bigfoot or the Abominable Snowman. The truth is that many specimens exist in the wild, but in order to successfully hunt the personal website, a hunter must know the habits of this species well.
The black-on-pink colorscheme and overextended metaphor led me to believe it was a legitimate peer of this particular dark corner of the internet. Few things:
Through the metaphor, the author identifies that manual or autogenerated referral sites simply have better SEO than blogs.
The author says that only a hundred or so famous blogs ever show up in search results, although I wonder about very specific searches "anime pool volleyball mask jpow". Bad example since those words are from a picture and would be hard to index - no wait, those words are in the post now. From my occasional overspecific search, I notionally believe engines are more inclined to drop words (even with a +) than index/show something from the end of the internet.
He says that blog searching is limited to blogrolls - an ad hoc network of blogs via sidebar links.
Hilariously, barring a really deep metaphor, there's no mention of aggregators such as the one Rob linked or the top comment newsletter that makes blog hunting a hobby (view without subscribing).
First confirmed kill
Oh nice. Those are fun and useful in the kitchen.
Haha! Bam! Spice it up a notch
3d print a spice weasel skin for that salt shooter.
We'll make thousands.
Might as well print money
In the mean time, what kind of rail systems are you looking at?
I got a 6x on it
And a salt loop
Nothing for recoil? Man's man.
I hip fire
Use an inverted periscope to see through the 6x
Omg I need a drawing.
Risk of Rain 2 release
Months after playing the game in pre-release, RoR2 finally went 1.0, adding a final boss that we have only tried to beat once.
In addition to items and levels, the really neat addition is scrap. Before, a 3d printer (trade random item you have for a known output item) was a crap shoot, now you can shred items you don't need and they are the first thing to be printed. It's a great way to focus your build, and has the balancing effect of making you carry inert scrap around between finding the scrapper and the 3d printer.
Speaking of focus...
We've had some pretty good runs on regular difficulty, but haven't yet beaten the curve.
We call the rock near Aurelionite's spawn Party Rock. This run had Party Pillar.
The lolbaters (and Jes) have also given the new meme game a try.
Like the video says: Mario Party + MXC + Ninja Warrior + Rocket League. Not a ton of levels though.
After a pretty substantial campaign, J and I finally finished Divinity II. A brief (gameplay spoiler) recap of our journey:
We got some neat new spells and abilities.
We raided a wine cellar.
We destroyed the last sentient tree... which I think was good cause it wanted to kill all non-elves(?!?).
We fought a kraken.
We fought some really heinous battles, including the one where enemies respawn as long as there's (difficult to extinguish) cursed fire... and their attack creates cursed fire.
We read some funny callbacks to the first game.
J extinguished the souls of like a zillion people/candles in order to *weaken* an enemy. Smdh.
We hid in the corner while a dragon fought the final boss...
...and his pet kraken.
Really though, the final battle was pretty good. The first stage is a easier (not easy) us-vs-them. Then it becomes a three-sided free-for-all that allows for the run and hide tactic.
Everyone being stuck at home means everyone has ample time to chat about things they can do while stuck at home.
Which one of those is Chris?
Boomer who WSB LARPs.
Kinda want to be theta gang.
Y'all are weird
How's Vacaville houses?
Ty and Zac?
Also, Chris, I didn't put 2k in, but did go ahead and buy a little of everything you mentioned except the bet on volatility because I don't know how to do that and SLV and ERIC are down today
But RKT is covering those losses. So you have made about 30 bucks
What's the list of purchases?
SLV, RKT, ERIC
Hold on, I know Quicken, but not the other two
Silver and Ericsson
I thought you were the one talking up silver, not Chris
No, it was Chris
Also, the crazy dude at the campground
Remember to sell options to hedge
That's what Chris says the really wealthy do
So if you do it, you're really wealthy by Chris's own definition.
[Rocket emoji][Soon emoji][Moon emoji]
Man, good thing I got on that on Friday
I probably should have bought more than 20 shares
Yeah I got 100. Gonna be a millionaire
How come no one told me TSLA was going to be up another 5% today?
Uhhh don't look at SalesForce.
It's not even a meme stock.
I guess earnings mean a lot.
Earnings are overrated.
Remember when PHUN was worth like $9B?
Haha legendary pump and dump opportunity gone to waste.
Just saw NIO's market cap, it's like the whole Chinese economy to sell 10,000 cars.
NIO. Riding that to the moon.
Oh shit, you in on that?
Yup, ride or die by anything you put in this channel
Some of it is sarcastic.
But hey, you only yolo once.
Doesn't matter. If I have seen the symbol I am buying
SalesForce here I come. Hopefully its on the up and up
Uhhh it's up 25%.
Not a lot of room to grow...
Says the guy who didn't recommend to buy TSLA at $1000
Haha. I did hedge with calling it a meme stock.
Not the best financial hedge, but it makes me feel better.
Look if you didn't think I should buy it, then we shouldn't be talking about it
Active investing, six months in review
A brief summary of my adventures in etrade, or, How I Didn't Learn to Stop Worrying and Love the QE.
Let's start with the worst. Oil is back at like 40 or 50 I think - crude futures or whatever casuals trade the most. Just before that extreme dip (to negative prices and contracts being called) seemed like a great time to buy since demand for fuel and plastics isn't exactly disappearing. Having read enough to not want to take delivery of 1,000 crude barrels, I just went with that Barclay's ETN when it was at like $8. I didn't care if it went lower in the short term. Except I should have because the ETN was liquidated at like $3. Right strategy, wrong symbol. Diversify.
It hurt to the tune of like $4,000, but really hurt because it should have been - at worst - like being cash gang.
I guess where we should have actually started was the stuff I had held for some or most of the last decade. Companies and sectors I had believed in: BCOSX, SMH, AMAGX, CSCO, and a few others. They were pretty good, but over that stretch you could make money in pretty much anything. SMH alone was $6,690.53 having gone from $40 in 2013 to $131 in 2020 (with dividends in between).
Inverses, never again(?)
Thanks to the F5 key, I was able to catch the beginning of the February/March madness. It was probably a good time for options trading, but I did inverses: DOG, DXD, SCC, SDS, SH, RWM, SPXS, QID. I timed some well, some poorly, and am probably down a couple percent overall on these. They're definitely not right for the kangaroo market but might be worth options plays in a few months.
With all of the covid pharma news, stocks in that sector were pretty volatile. Hitting f5 on finviz.com, I rode one (ENZ) for a 10% gain from testing the waters with $1,000. With enough time and limit orders, this could be a thing, but as they say, ain't nobody got time for that.
I've still only done the most basic (single leg) options trading - I think I need to do paper trading to get the hang of spreads. That also means I'm not buying more than a handful of contracts. Options have been a mixed bag due to being bearish during the V-shaped recovery (that simply must be a 'V\' recovery). Puts on BJK, CZR, and IYR expired worthless. A NKLA earnings put salvaged a modest 30% - again we're talking like $50 gains here.
Calls have been pretty good, SNE (120%), ERIC (100%), TWTR (300%).
It's more fantasy football than investments with these.
Finaly, boomer- er, bonds
I feel like an idiot for having held so much money in a savings account for years. Also I feel like an idiot for having done all of the above stuff when trading bonds has comprehensively been better for me.
And yeah, trading them, not simply holding them for 5% every six months. I mean, I have a bunch of those, but then there's:
Avis 12% on $4,500
Bed Bath & Beyond 18% on $7,000
Tupperware 30% on 10,000
Goodyear 13% on $8,700
Most of these were low-coupon and still risky enough to make it worthwhile to cash out. Also in there was a CA muni that made similar money and one that was called and lost $250.
Covid time is time to revisit old projects and entertainment.
I finally ordered scaffolding as it is required equipment for completing painting on a house with a 30-ish foot wall. Since I expect to use it for occasional painting and tree trimming, I bought instead of rented and but went with the basic Home Depot stuff.
Putting it together solo wasn't too bad. The locking pins are an easy mechanism and nothing is particularly heavy. I think I knocked out the unboxing and assembly in about 45 minutes, minus the extra time from unwisely affixing the top platform before the safety railing.
The only slightly-cumbersome mechanism is how the outriggers attach to the main frame. Removing and adjusting the pinching mechanism isn't too bad, but it turns out that raising/lowering/removing the outriggers was the thing I did most since I needed to slide the scaffolding along uneven ground.
The casters are better than expected. I'm used to consumer-grade Home Depot equipment having the lowest-tier wheels (which is often okay), but these are robust and with a large enough diameter to roll over extension cords with a light lift-and-push.
One thing you notice immediately is that the fitment of each piece is pretty generous. More to the point, everything sways when you're on it. It's disconcerting, especially if you look down. The top of the safety rail has about a foot of travel and seems only useful for looping power cords and gripping laterally as you climb to the top deck (due to the locking pins, it has doesn't have much play in this direction).
Aside from the play between the telescoping cylinders, for some reason the spring-action locking pins only pass through one hole. The manually-inserted locking pins do, however, secure both sides of the beam.
While catastrophic failure other than tipping seems unlikely, I started the job clutching for dear life, slowly got my sea legs, and ended it swinging between platforms with a mug of grog in each hand and a cutlass between my teeth.
It's worth emphasizing that keeping three points of contact while climbing is probably the most important safety consideration - and one that's difficult when you're carrying a sprayer, sawzall, or grog. Other than tighter structural fit, the one thing I'd want from this equipment is interior manholes to allow climbing on the inside.
I staged the power washer and then sprayer on the lower deck, with a sheet to protect them from overspray. Being elevated ensured spray hose slack and meant that all the equipment would travel with the scaffolding.
I was dismayed to find that while most of my eaves were pressure-treated, at the very top they used doug fir that some years ago ushered termites into the attic. I had found the droppings/damage when I first bought the place, but didn't know how they got in.
And that's about it, pretty quick project:
Day 1: Assemble scaffolding and power wash
Day 2: Paint stucco
Day 3: Paint eaves
Day 4: Tear down and clean up
Jes too, but she didn't have a paint spot to prove it.
Having browsed a lot of used lenses, I decided to invest in a neoprene sleeve for the 500mm. I'm not sure how effective it'll be against moisture and sand since the rotating seams uncovered (as a necessity), but it doesn't hurt to guard against scratches. Most of the Lens Coat products are camo for nature photographers or try-hards, happily, they have a non-military snow camo print that may keep some of the sun's heat off the lens.
And here's how much I'm just pushing buttons and calling it investing, I had a couple of bonds get called and had no idea what that meant. Well, it's when the issuer decides to pay them off early. Seems to make sense when interest rates are low, if you have the cash on hand or a better finance option. Anyway, since etrade is so terrible, I can't find the specific notification, but it was a California muni, meaning I probably took a loss on the whole thing. If it's not obvious:
Bonds have a face value that gets paid back (in this case, early).
Munis and other stable investments tend to cost more than the face value - it's not a new issue so you're buying from someone else at market value (above face value for high interest/stable, below for low interest/dubious).
If you buy above face value, at some point (ideally in the near future) interest payments will cover whatever premium you paid and you'll be back in the green.
I was probably in the red on this one, but not enough to care more than to now click "Exclude callable" when looking for new bonds. There's some more info here. Strangely, that article doesn't mention the flip side:
Issue: Avis Budget Car Rent Llc /Avis - 5.5% due 09/02/2020
Event: Partial Call changed to Full Call email@example.com
Rental car company bonds have been trading below face value (I think even before covid). Before Hertz, I was of the opinion that any rental company in distress would probably just merge with a more successful one, so I bought some Avis at like 85% of face value. The called. So I'm missing out on two years of 5.5% but getting back my prinicipal and 15 cents on the dollar of someone else's principal. That's way better than my mildly successful but fun NKLA put right before their earnings call.
Issue: Netflix Inc. - 4.375% due 11/15/2026
Event: S&P long term rating upgraded from BB- to BB eff 07/28/2020
It's nice to see Netflix finally moving out of the high yield/risk catergory and closer to the investment-grade stable bonds like United Airlines and Carnival.
I want my second plane.
I want my first plane.
I think I want my first house before that though.
Just remember you can always live in a plane, but you can't fly a house.
Investing in pre-release Steam games has been good.
Barotrauma improved their campaign mode to make it more... campaign-y.
Risk of Rain 2 added some content so we dove back in.
Sky Meadow is a neat map with a lot of verticality. The mushrooms are a royal pain though.
The engineer's harpoon attack (replaces shield) makes him a lot better at clearing squishies and making money. I'm convinced that favoring income is the best play, though I'm a lot happier when Derrick brings a shield.
I'm not sure its spawn mechanics, but the scavenger (miniboss, drops eight items) could be really useful for monsoon runs.
The last time Cattle and I put together a run that beat the drizzle difficulty curve, we simply could not die (we tried). We're finally back in form (for drizzle) and did the same but with a four-squad. Interestingly, even though we could drop bosses in seconds, we all found ways to (inadvertantly) take lethal damage deep into the run. Since it got late, we spec'd into Focused Convergence and Shaped Glass, then decided to obliterate ourselves at the obelisk.
I normally favor a preon or gravity cube in my equipment slot. I happened into rockets with a handful of fuel cells when half the team died before the boss was defeated. With Gesture of the Drowned, I was passive-firing seeker rockets every few seconds. Worked pretty well, partiucularly when combined with other effects.
It started with this:
New blaseball season starts tomorrow, who are y'all rooting for?
Sunbeams are in a rough spot, we didn't get a single blessing in the election
At least we have four outs next season.
So each player's performance is RNG?
And then the fans bet/vote to determine the rule mods?
It's random based on player stats.
"The Mexico City Wild Wings are a Blaseball team in the Lawful Evil division of the Evil League. They have been a part of the Blaseball League since Season 1. They work hard, try their best, and have good splortsmanship."
"The Wild Wings team is comprised of a diverse range of players - from the star pitcher who exists outside of time, to an ordinary car tire piloted by rats, and a batter with the distinction of being the game's first part-seal player."
I have coins and peanuts.
I assume that means somehow I'm signed in.
Yeah so I bought access to the shop.
And I bought the election thing.
But can't vote because I guess the season hasn't started.
I ate a peanut.
Peanuts were added as a result of today's election.
Wait. How was there an election in the off-season?
Playoffs were yesterday and the election ended today.
If you click 'Book' you can see the current rules.
I must not have a high enough clearance.
Rule J has me worried.
That's just how the Forbidden Book has been since it was opened at the end of last season and the Hellmouth opened.
What's weird is that when I went to sign up it said my email address was already in use.
I got the same thing, it's fine.
You've actually always been a blaseball fan.
I mean, how could I not? I'm a part-seal rights activist.
Really, it's just a simulated fantasy sports league based vaguely on baseball.
There are teams, wagers, and lore - lots of lore.
And between seasons the rules of the game change based on user feedback. Really neat idea.
I chose my favorite team in the usual manner for someone uninitiated - based on the mascot that I liked the most. Behind the offensive powerhouse of Jessica Telephone and a pitching rotation featuring ace Hiroto Wilcox, the Hades Tigers beat the New York Millennials to win the championship.
I... found one of those generic electronics houses on the east coast selling new-in-box for just a bit more than the used-but-perfect prices. I'm - of course - wary of internet retailers, but third party reviews looked good and I'm pretty confident my financial institution will go to bat for me if the need arises.
I was looking at the 500mm f/4g that was made from '07-'15, optimistic about a good deal on a lens that might be taking up warehouse space. Naturally, a week after calling to check on my order status, the retailer informed me that they had made a mistake in the listing. My options were to cancel the order or consider paying a bit more but getting the '15-now model for considerably below retail. I considered if it was worth it and if this might have been their play the whole time, but decided to go for it.
A couple days later I received the (this time) advertised product. New-in-box with all the documentation and wrapping. This called for a surf photo session.
My monopod was mostly finished when the lens arrived, with the mount in hand I could measure out the final pieces. I need to clean the bracket up a bit and buy correct-length screws, but the whole assembly is solid and light.
Since low tide was before dawn, I requested we hit a shorebreak like Scripps or D Street. We settled on north of the Scripps Pier at 0700 and found that the place was already pretty crowded. An hour earlier would have been better for light, maybe crowds, and definitely:
The haze just above the water was dense. The above shot is exactly what it looked like at the beginning of the session, with the histogram to show it quantitatively. Needless to say, all of these shots needed to abuse their histogram a bit.
None of these are cropped (except the lead image), so while a couple of them could be tighter, in general 500mm is pretty good for a beach break. I cut the monopod to place the viewfinder about at my height, this afforded a decent perspective for waves that weren't very clean. In a perfect world I might get lower, but that certainly wasn't happening today.
I opted to shoot near the pier to give the background some texture.
While f/4 gives a nice depth of field falloff, the field of view can make for a neat foreground/background.
Having used some pretty bad long lenses in the past, the optics on the f/4e are a breath of fresh air. Having been in the water for this stuff, the biggest difference with shooting telephoto is that focus and positioning are a piece of cake.