Tuesday, April 8, 2008

all's quiet in the west

Its been pretty quiet out here next to the foothills. Mother says I don't post anything except rants but that's about all I've had to say for the last while. And sometimes Steffie is just such a fool that I can't resist.

Not much happened again last week. I made a flying trip back to Saskatchewan last Sunday to finish up a file with a client, had supper with RJ and was back out here Monday night so that I could be in Red Deer to conduct an NTSCC training session on Tuesday. I've got one more of those coming up in Brandon tomorrow and then we should be about done with them. We'll probably come up with a virtual course to close off the few remaining training opportunities but I doubt that we will find enough participants to run any more classroom sessions for that.

Last night we took Camiel & Allison out for supper - it seemed like the least we could do after they have let us park here for over a month now. I ate too much and now I'm up in the middle of the night with a belly-ache and an insomniac cat in my lap. He just helped type that last line but his little fingers aren't very good at hitting the keys so he's not really all that much help.

Last week I finally mustered up the courage to open a brokerage account again. I had a bout of thinking I knew something about buying and selling stocks about 4 years ago, took the cure and went back to letting the pros handle it but it really bugs me to see what they charge vs. what they deliver. Even a relatively small portfolio is likely paying a minimum of $20,000 annually in management fees and for what? Most of the managers don't beat the major indices. In other words, if you ran your own portfolio and all you did was buy an index fund, you'd beat over 90% of the street managers. That bugs me. So this winter I have made a concerted effort to educate myself.

Andy Sirski (former Grainews editor) writes a common sense letter for little investors. We used to say that the Western Producer was about agriculture and Grainews was about farming. His newsletter carries on that tradition only in the investment arena. Where other market letters are about the markets, Andy's letter is about how to invest. I also bought a set of CDs from some high-priced outfit in California that keeps phoning me and trying to upsell me for some more training. The combination of the two has certainly been informative - time will tell just how useful it may or may not have been. So far I have just put $5000 in the trading account. If I ever get to the point where I think I know what I am doing again then it will be time enough to put some more in there. If we get a few more months of panic in the markets that has to open up some major buying opportunities.

We're getting ready to pull up stakes and head further east, probably next weekend. I phoned Quint last week to see what our yard looks like - it sounds like we don't want to go there yet. He said that SaskPower must have got stuck in the lane when they tried to go in to read the meter. It sounds like they didn't even get to the treeline. Silly buggers. It might have looked better than it was because my tracks from Feb. have likely reappeared but it sounds like it is a long way from ready for us to come back yet. We'll probably go back as far as Saskatoon or P.A and then hang out there until Nipawin dries up.

I finally got the satellite switch done yesterday. We've been spoiled here in Al's yard because they have a super fast wi-fi network that we have been sponging off of. We were still assigned to SatMex 5 and I hadn't felt any urgency about getting switched until I started trying about 2 weeks ago. I got a variety of stories depending who I talked to but I think what was going on was that Hughes was doing some maintenance on the actual satellite and wouldn't allow any new assignments until they got done whatever they were doing. That finally happened yesterday so we are able to get locked on a satellite whenever we get around to moving. In the process I learned quite a bit including that I can talk directly to Galaxy Broadband who are the people who deal with Hughes so that removed one middleman from the contact list. It was also reassuring to know that Galaxy knows that we are tripod users. I've heard so many conflicting stories about how us tripod users are illegal or unsupported so it was good to talk to someone and tell them that we are on a tripod and have them continue to provide support. Having gone from a "Canadian" satellite to SatMex 5 and back again I now have some confidence that we can continue to travel North America and count on always having internet access.

I just re-read my opening paragraph and I think I mispoke. Steffie is always a fool - its just that sometimes it shows more than others.

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