Thursday, July 28, 2005

Just Say No!

First, my Apple Powerbook's hard drive just upped and died. Two years after I purchased the three-year $350 extended warranty I made my very first call to Apple Service. They couldn't find any record of my extended plan. Someone had misapplied my Extended Service plan to a 12" Powerbook instead of my 17" Powerbook. That was Friday. It took until Monday for Apple to recognize my warranty and let me talk to a technician about my problem. After trying a few diagnostic tricks, Apple sent me out a box to send my PB to one of their repair depots.

Then, the phone call. A technician found a "dent" on my Apple case and Apple decided to void my warranty due to "customer abuse." Not so fast, I went to law school, but perhaps more importantly, I didn't just fall off the turnip truck. Up the Apple chain of command I went and about 40 minutes and a half dozen intermediaries later, finally someone without a script said,

"Hey, we don't know if the dent caused the problem or not, but we think so. Tell you what Mr. Harris, we'll split the $975.00 repair bill with you. But we can't take a credit card, you have to send us a cashier's check before we will repair it."

Apparently Apple didn't just fall off the turnip truck, either.

One day later. I put a Linksys CD into my Sony Vaio to install drivers for my new Linksys Wireless Print Server. Nothing. The DVD-RW drive wouldn't have anything to do with the CD. The CD worked fine with my Toshiba notebook and the Sony drive wouldn't read any other CD's either. So for the first time since buying the Vaio 18 months ago, I call Sony pursuant to my $300 three-year extended warranty.

"Mr. Harris, there's no record of your Sony warranty, did you ever register it?"

"Yes I did, online, the day after receiving the notebook."

"That's no problem, we can register it now......oops, it says it's already registered."

"That's what I said, I registered it 18 months ago."

"Well, it's registered with no information, so I can't update it. I'm going to have to send it over to Contract Administration for manual updating."

"What about my broken computer?"

"Call us back in three business days."

So here I sit, two top of the line machines, two top of the line companies, two broken computers, two expensive extended warranties and two big fat ZEROS in customer satisfaction. Next time someone offers you an extended warranty, answer them with their own words when it's time to live up to their end of the bargain:



Sunday, July 17, 2005


There is an interesting exchange below in the comments section of my Scorecard post about risk. My last contribution to the subject was an admission that I don't know what risk is anymore. And I'm not just talking about risk in the markets, either. A few of you who know a little about my personal life, understand what I am referring to here. Whereas risk used to be the guiding light of measured action, at some point after turning 55 (a Fibonacci number) risk ceased to be a factor in my life.

My Macintosh widget tool defines risk as a noun, "a situation involving exposure to danger." Maybe more illuminating, if I click the widget for it's thesaurus, it generates risk synonyms, "chance, uncertainty, unpredictability, precariousness, instability, insecurity and perilousness." Yes, as Jon Lovitz used to exclaim on Saturday Night Live, "That's the ticket."

In the markets, as in life, there is always the safe way, with limited, knowable, returns and there is always the risky path, with unlimited, unknowable consequences. What is it that causes one in the prime of his life to choose risk? Or is risk simply a continuum upon which we slide from one end to the other, using degrees of desperation as our only directional tool? In the thread below, my protagonist re risk is Ross, a friend of mine for the past 20 years. Ross, an MD, has built an incredible medical business and I was there when it all began. Every step of the way for Ross was steep in risk. Now, twenty years later, tremendously successful, Ross worries about stock risk inherent using insider buys as a sole determinant in investment decisions. Is the nature of that risk so different as the risk Ross took in starting his own medical business so many years ago?

What is the nature of risk, how do we assign value, input, significance to risk in walking through the markets, our lives, our dreams? Is there some objective measure by which we can utilize risk in the decision making process? Or is risk just some subjective cloud of uncertainty, ever-present in the smallest to the largest of our daily life decisions?

A lot of question marks today. I just don't have any answers. One year ago I left what was familiar, what was my life, on a journey that took me to the Pacific Northwest to daytrade stocks for a private hedge fund. The risk I took, the cost I have paid and the new life I have found, just doesn't lend itself to any rational analysis. Fifty-five years (a Fibonacci number) and longing took over. Go figure.


Wednesday, July 13, 2005


Earlier this year I posted a series of Insider Buys, stocks that were being accumulated by company insiders. Although my preference is to be in and out of these in 1-4 days, they also may represent a nice longer term B&H strategy. Quickly navigating through my archives and bringing prices current, this is what the results look like if one were to have bought and held these picks.

Date Stock Price Current Return

1/10 PANL 8.03 12.18 52%
1/12 WIND 11.55 16.95 47%
2/4 CRUS 5.10 6.03 18%
2/11 EDGR 1.33 2.34 76%
3/2 MCDT 3.60 4.51 25%
3/2 CTLM 2.00 2.40 20%
3/4 TELK 18.10 16.39 - 9%
3/23 DNDN 5.70 6.05 6%

AVG = +29.37%
NASDAQ YTD = + 3.8%

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

The Passion

In the past a market like this one would make me cranky all day. When it went on like this one has, day after day of chop chop, I would be cranky all week, all month at times. Well all things must past and this market too, shall pass.

The DOW was down 101 points today. But I was up, twenty trades in six and a half hours, a good day trading, profitable and fun. But mention daytrading to anyone these days and they are likely to turn up their noses, treat you like a disease, not like you have a disease, like you are a disease. A friend of mine is going through a very nasty divorce. When she told her lawyer she daytraded for a living, a six-figure living, he told her to go get a job waitressing, she'll get a better shake in court. Daytrading is not a real job.

Not a real job?

I make more money daytrading then I ever did buying and holding, or position trading. I make more money daytrading then I ever did as an attorney. I love what I do and I do it well. I curse three-day weekends, holidays where the market is closed. My rhythm is thrown and I become cranky. Take away my trading and you take away my spirit, my raison d'etre.

Do what you love, or love what you do.