How Not to Run a Business

If the electric company ran a tool rental center:

Guy: I’d like to rent a nail gun.
E.C.: Sure, what for?
Some projects around the house.
But what projects? I need to know specifically what it will be used for.
Why does that matter?
Our rates are different depending on what you do with it.
Umm…I’m going to be installing highly-efficient thermal windows.
Okay, you qualify for our air conditioning and ventilation rate.
Great! And I just bought a hybrid car, so I’m going to build a thing in the garage for it.
You’ll need to rent a separate nail gun for that.
What? But I’ll use the same nails. I don’t need a separate nail gun.
Corporate policy – the nail gun in the ACV plan can’t be used for an activity that qualifies under another plan.
What’s the other plan?
Our electric vehicle rate.
Oh. What’s the cheapest rate plan you have?
That would be the interruptible off-peak rate.
I’ll get that one.
Sure, but you can use the nail gun only between the hours of 8 PM and 8 AM.
And somebody else might need to use it too, so we may borrow the nail gun from you for a little while.
Could I rent that one then?
Only for heating or cooling – your window work qualifies.
Okay, I’ll take it.
That will be $30 a day.
Would you like to pay $3 a day extra for a nail gun made from renewable resources?

I could keep going, but I’ll end it there, somewhat ungracefully.

Stay tuned next week, when the electric company runs the gas station (“What vehicle do you have and what is your destination?”), followed by what happens when an airline sells cans of paint (“You’ll be painting today? That’s about double the normal price. But if you buy today and don’t paint until next month, it’ll be cheaper.”).

And Peter responded to her, “Tell me whether you sold the land for such and such a price?” And she said, “Yes, that was the price.”

Acts 5:8

Things Not to Say to a Toddler

The title should explain everything you need to know for this post.

“That ink stamp looks yummy!”

picture of a tongue stained by an ink stamp

“What’s inside your nose?”

picture of a finger in a nose

“Here’s some markers and some paper. I’ll be back later.”

picture of marker scribbles on a hand and a knee

For man is born for trouble, As sparks fly upward.

Job 5:7

Run/Walk for the Cure

My family participated in a cancer walk last weekend. It was more like an anti-cancer walk, since that’s the goal of the deal – to raise money for curing cancer. My mother-in-law has had cancer longer than my wife and I have been married. That’s a lot of chemo over the last 10 years.

She was interviewed earlier in the week by a TV station. People are normally interested in her story because she shouldn’t be doing as well as she is, at least according to conventional wisdom. But the interviewer didn’t ask about that and kept to a list of questions that you would politely ask any stranger whom you’ve just met.

The morning of the event, the station scheduled a follow-up interview.

Live TV.

The goal was to be there in time for the interview (8:00). We woke everyone up at 6:30 and left the house before 7:00. At 7:30, we were a mile away from the stadium. At 7:55, we were a quarter mile from the stadium. At 8:00, we were still a quarter mile from the stadium.

But we texted my sister, so she watched on TV for us. At 8:10, we had parked and met up with everyone else. So close, and yet so far.

Okay, that’s enough of the details. Now here’s some random tidbits of the day.


Let’s start with the venue. The starting line (and finish line) was in front of the local baseball stadium

picture of Race for the Cure at Comerica Park

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Taking Stock

Today’s post will be rather boring for many people, so feel free to skip it if you want. I’ll understand.

I don’t gamble in casinos, but I make up for it by playing the stock market. Any day now, I’ll pick the right stock and be able to retire early.

I’m not a day trader – more like a week or month trader. And it’s not much of a gamble, because I’m not risking a lot on it. I play with about 5% of my retirement money. And since a normal retirement would be 30 years away, I have some time for playing.

I created a stock screener at my online brokerage. Normally, I would sift through those results and see if any stocks looked interesting enough to buy. But then I got a different idea:

What if the number of stocks returned by the screener meant something?

and not necessarily the stocks themselves.

I guess I was hoping that my screener was inadvertently a leading indicator. So I graphed the number of stocks from my screener against various indices, in order to see if I could find some correlation between the market and my screener.

For the last year (actually March 2010 to March 2011), I ran that screener near the end of each trading day. I missed a few days, but got most of them. You can certainly see a trend:

graph of stock screener results compared to stock index prices

Unfortunately, all it does is mirror the index price. The number of stocks approved by the screen goes down as the stock market goes up, and vice-versa. While interesting, it doesn’t tell me anything I couldn’t know by looking at the market data without my screener.

Also unfortunately, it doesn’t tell me what the market is going to do.

Maybe I’ll fiddle with the screener and keep up this hobby of mine. There’s not much of a net loss (or gain), so I suppose it’s harmless.

He who loves money will not be satisfied with money, nor he who loves abundance with its income. This too is vanity.

Ecclesiastes 5:10

Spring Flower Photos

Not a very catchy title, I know, but I was going for accuracy rather than cleverness.

This post doesn’t need much in the way of introduction, other than to say we visited some friends for dinner and these photos are from their yard.

Apple Tree

picture of an apple tree in bloom with white flowers

Apple Blossoms

close-up picture of a apple tree blossoms

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What’s in a Name

There is one college football program against which I always root.
The coach of that team has an interesting name.
Not that his name is particularly unique – rather, each name sounds like another noun.

I’m going to have some fun with that today.

First off, here is a picture of a gymnasium:

picture of a gymnasium

And here is a train trestle:

picture of a train trestle

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Handling a Two-Year-Old

Here are some things that might be helpful for those of you who have or will have a 2YO.

  • You can always brush a 2-year-old’s teeth.

    If he likes the toothbrushing process, then you’re good because he cooperates.

    If he doesn’t like the toothbrushing process, then he cries. And when he cries, he opens his mouth and you are free to brush his teeth.

    Now when he turns 3, he might learn to clamp his mouth shut to thwart the attempt at hygiene… But don’t tell him that yet, please.

  • Don’t pour as much into a cup as you think he can drink.

    Rather, pour as much into the cup as you want to clean off the floor.

  • Don’t try to argue with him.

    He will be more persistent than you.
    2YO: Where bumblebee go?
    Parent: It’s not a bumblebee – it’s a fly.
    2YO: Where bumblebee go?
    Parent: It’s not a bumblebee – it’s a fly.
    2YO: Where bumblebee go?
    Parent: He flew out the window. Look there’s a fly over there!

    The goal is to redirect his attention.

    Or outlast him until his nap time.

Yet they did not listen or incline their ears, but stiffened their necks in order not to listen or take correction.

Jeremiah 17:23