Monday, July 26, 2010
David Neubert, my boss at Kapitall, is putting real cash on the line for Kapitall's Summer Investor team. He's seeded a Kapitall portfolio with $1000 allocated to each of the Summer Investors. We make buying recommendations and the highest performing intern gets an undivided hour with David over lunch (his treat) and valueable bragging rights. There's some fine print too, to make sure we keep it all fair and legal.
In a sense, I'm new to investing. I once followed certain mutual funds quite closely but as I mentioned in my first Kapitall post, have lately left investing to my better half. It's time to take more responsibility. For this challenge I confined my initial research to within Kapitall to demonstrate how comprehensive the site is. According to the Kapitall Investor DNA quiz, I have a Passive Investor profile.
Here are the buy recommendations I made to David:
1) Kimberly-Clark (KMB), maker of the funny new denim Huggies diapers (YouTube video approaching 1M views). We buy Kimberly-Clark consumer staple products regularly and often, no matter what the economy is doing. Kimberly-Clark has a price of profit (POP) of 13, a high ClimateCounts green rating, and a market cap of $26.1B. I'm impressed that they're measuring their impact on global warming and their profits are less expensive than similar corporations.
2) Luxottica (LUX), maker of most of the world's sunglasses, upscale and otherwise. Are designer sunglasses worth their markup if comparable models are sold cheaply at LensCrafters? Consumers think so; Luxottica reported 2Q profits higher than the year ago quarter, crediting both their non-premium and luxury brands. I simply love that my $10 shades are protecting my eyes just as well as models 20 times that price. Luxottica does not have a ClimateCounts green rating or POP in Kapitall, so I'm letting my rookie status shine by betting on them. After all, it's summer and my family is using, losing, and buying sunglasses. I assume many other consumers are doing the same. Is this naive? Keep reading to find out.
3) Pfizer (PFE), pharmeceutical giant. Turns out that Pfizer is going to pay a dividend on August 4, delivering a quick reward if David takes my buy recommendation. Pfizer has a high ClimateCounts green rating, a POP of 7, and a market cap of $119.5B. This company is influential and has taken steps to manage its environmental impact. Its low POP means profits are relatively inexpensive. This looks like one to hold.
I considered the following brands and am witholding my recommendation for now:
1) Taleo (TLEO) provides talent recruitment services. I noticed that many of Seattle's most recognizable companies manage their job boards on Taleo software. Given the persistently high unemployment rate in the US, I realized that Taleo must be getting fairly high exposure for the few postings available. The company's POP is an outlier at 51 among other software companies. I have more to understand about Taleo before investing in it.
2) Trina Solar (TSL), a Chinese solar energy pioneer, landed in my practice portfolio when I first created a Kapitall user ID. It's performed beautifully, but there's some information missing from its Kapitall profile. I need to do additional research outside Kapitall to understand it well enough to buy it with (David's) real money.
Disclaimer: At the time of this writing, I do not own any of the securities mentioned above. I have informally advised David Neubert on these companies and after consideration, he has purchased the stocks for his personal account. My opinions are not necessarily shared by Kapitall, and they are not in any way to be considered investment advice.
Wednesday, July 21, 2010
Five bloggers have agreed to team up for a challenge today. I want to introduce you to my new friends- enjoy!
1) Jamie at All My Loose Ends: Jamie tackles marriage, motherhood and creativity all tied up in one. She wrote a heart-wrenching post in February about the importance of saying yes to our children. See Jamie for a big picture perspective, and the funny little moments kids bring to her life too.
2) Goannatree by Anna: Anna Blanch humorously claims the longest list post in the history of list posts, but offers pointed advice for surviving and thriving in college and graduate level seminars and tutorials. She often writes about her journey through Graduate School and her life as an ex-pat – she is an Australian living in the St Andrews, Scotland who spent some time living in the heart of Texas! But more than this, Anna, a self described scholar-blogger, explores the relationships between literature and popular culture, religion, theology, and faith. I'm deep into her post about Children’s literature and finding lesson plans I can use at home for my preschooler who adores reading!
3) Spitfiresworld: SpitFire uses a Highway of Life analogy to write stories focused on making life's journey more smooth, and most importantly, keeps the kids (and you) from asking, "are we there yet"? She reminds us that our loved ones, not the mirror, are the most telling reflection of beauty in this loving post.
4) Terri (TheCoolMom) writes TheVeryLatestThing: She describes herself as a wife of 1, mother of 10, and grandmother of 2. She's writing 2 blogs and 1 novel; this is one influential woman so listen up when she shares advises caution to businesses using Facebook!
Scrapping Do or Don't? You'll have to visit KreatebyKeKe to find out!
Monday, July 19, 2010
Sunday, July 18, 2010
Wednesday, July 14, 2010
- If you've gotten this far, click on http://www.kapitall.com/ to find out what I'm talking about.
- Now that you're here, the playground is cool, isn't it? Go ahead and open a practice portfolio. Click on the My Contacts button and add me to your contacts so we can chat about the training tools, and what your "copper" status means. I look forward to chatting with you!
Friday, July 2, 2010
(Warning: baby is the director. After watching this video you'll either feel like a ragdoll or as though you rode in a washing machine.)
I've been reading a lot of online commentary about how noisy kids are and whether they should be allowed in public places like restaurants, movie theaters, or on planes where adults are trying to enjoy themselves. Seriously? One plane passenger asked if I'd considered giving my daughter Tylenol before our flight. I know it stinks to hear crying on a flight, but trust me when I say the parents are doing everything they know to provide comfort.
I'm squarely in favor of responsive, responsible parenting, and also for giving parents a little bit of latitude. Yes kids can be noisy and do need reminding to respect others. Don't adults need that reminder too, on occasion?
As a parent of very young children I make extra accomodations to reduce our noise. We watch our movies at home, though there might be a special daddy-daughter trip to the theater on the horizon. Our kids are usually in bed by 8:00, not hanging in romantic restaurants. When we are out in public, I almost always remember snacks, books, or toys to keep little minds busy.
But even the best among us forget the snack, book, or toy. And maybe you're not up for I Spy games or telling stories. Here are a few distractions you might already have that could buy you a few minutes when you can't remove a cranky child from the scene:
1) iPhone. My friend credits the iPhone for teaching her daughter to read. She's an attentive mom and I think she meant the phone was a great opportunity to practice! We like these alphabet flashcards. I found a terrific post by Travel Savvy Mom naming her favorites.
2) Digital camera's video function. Our point & shoot has proven very durable to rough handling by toddlers, who are fascinated to see their own image on the screen. The video above was taken by my daughter on the airplane. That camera got her through at least 30 minutes of a 5 hour flight; not bad.
3) Bring a laptop, DVD player, or, on Alaska Airlines flights, rent a digEplayer. Yes we could buy a DVD player, but our daughter doesn't know it yet and she thinks having her own player is a really special treat for airplane rides.
I think we're all doing our best to teach our children great manners. But they're children after all, and There Will Be Noise. After trying your best in a difficult situation, for your own sanity, remember that you don't have to satisfy a someone else's expectations for public behavior. I think most people will recognize that your best effort is enough!
Tuesday, June 1, 2010
I volunteer for my local Y and get their e-newsletter. Today's issue carried a list of low cost or free family activities that build togetherness.
Connection- there it is, the essence of life. The presence or lack of it drives behaviors good and bad. Connection determines whether we're happy at work (not entirely salary, mind you), happy with ourselves (connection here meaning that you know who you are and what you value) and, I think, if we're happy at home. A friend (Heligirl, a blogger with killer parenting insight) told me this weekend that kids usually act out because they simply want their parent's attention, and to some negative attention is nearly as good as positive attention.
There were several ideas from the YMCA list that I implement regularly, and a few new ones I'm going to try. Here's what's coming up on our agenda:
1) At home art project: We're decorating memo cubes as teacher gifts. This is a low cost idea. We're using art supplies we already have (stamp pads and markers) to decorate memo pads for our favorite teachers. Both my girls love art projects and this is one we get to pay forward. Perfect!
What will you do this week to connect with your family?
Tuesday, May 25, 2010
The rest of our clutter comes from the normal places. We have kids so there are outgrown clothes, outgrown gear, art, toys, books, and other detrius kids produce. My husband and I both see how well-intentioned home projects, craft projects, and mail all contribute to the piles stashed around the house. It's time to sort and move on.
1) Let Go
Make a mental shift. It feels like a loss to get rid of something that's actually useful or valuable. Consider the stress you're incurring by having to search for the things you need that get lost in the clutter. Is there anything more maddening than not being able to find the remote, the keys, or the kids when you need them? When I was taking photos of my kids, but framing the shot to avoid clutter in the background, I knew I needed to do more.
Exhibit A- cluttered background
Exhibit B- slightly less cluttered background. Clever, yes?
Clutter can keep you from enjoying what's available to you now. If you haven't used something in the last year, time to move it on to someone who can benefit from it today. If some of your extra stuff is actually useful it'll be even easier to figure out where it should go in step 2.
Sort out everything that's keeping you from clear useable space. If you like, try selling your stuff, but have a backup plan that will move the item out of your house if it doesn't sell in a reasonable amount of time. Here are some resources to help you here:
Sell- Ebay, Craigslist, community garage sales
Give- local children's charities, salvationarmy.org for large things like mattresses and furniture, local Yahool freecycle group, Craigslist, Dress For Success
This is potentially the hardest, as old habits sneak back in. Realize that decluttering is an ongoing process and devote just a bit of time each day to clearing & storing. Make it part of a routine, perhaps something you do before dessert or during commercials. Set a timer. Make your family a chore chart. Find a way to gently remind yourself of the slip and get back on track. Eventually, you'll be enjoying your clutter-free space so much that it will take less time to maintain than to clean again. Good luck!
Wednesday, April 28, 2010
It can be really tough to stay indoors, especially when the weather is starting to warm up. You can't stand another minute in your house, even with a battalion of DVDs or On Demand options. I have a few suggestions that get you out of the house without sharing the germs. Would love to hear about your favorite tricks in the comments!
Olympic Game Farm, Sequim WA, http://www.olygamefarm.com/
This is far and above the most exciting for the kids, and yet not a quick option most of us. I couldn't resist including it. For those folks within an easy drive of Sequim, nothing could beat the excitement of a zebra, rhinocerous, or bison eyeing you through the window. Bet your kids forget to sneeze!
Even in this economy, there are plenty of sites buzzing with large trucks, cranes, and new loads of concrete. Pull up across the street and gawk a bit.
Coffee drive through
Yes, this is mostly to relieve you. The kids can enjoy a steamed milk with honey for their throats, you get whatever legal quantity of coffee you need to get through the day.
Let the kids "drive"
I started this little game with my 3 year old. I let her be my backseat driver and take her instructions at every intersection: left, right, or straight ahead. She thinks it's hilarious and adventurous. I bet older kids would like following a map to a new location or an oddly-named street that catches their eye.
The prior suggestion led to another idea. I don't know the first thing about geocaching, except that it's an outdoor adventure mixing brainpower and a little mystery. Could it be that some of the caches can be sighted from the comfort of your car? Perhaps that suggestion is completely at odds with the values of true geocachers. Maybe someone should invent car-based geocaching, and tell us about it. Or, you could make up your own treasure hunt (find the Fremont troll!).******
Update 5/12/2010: Drive through a car wash! The ones where you hop out & do your own scrubbing take longer (in my experience) and that's a good thing when you have time to kill. Both of my kids are fascinated with the water coursing over the windows- induces happiness in one girl, a bit of fear in the other. I think the fear comes from not knowing what a clean car looks like.
Did I provide at least one hour's distraction for you and your kids? Success!
Take care everyone,
Tuesday, April 6, 2010
Here’s the situation: my in-laws live in a small town near the Canadian border. Sometimes my husband and I leave our young children with their grandparents while we buzz around. Everyone has a great time and there are almost never any problems. Of course, sometimes there are problems, and we were recently unprepared.
There are limited medical services in this small town. The nearest ER is across the border, in Canada. On one recent visit, while we were away, one of the kids did a faceplant into the floor and needed her lip stitched. Luckily we hadn't gotten very far, but we had no idea where to take here for care. Not only do we have to do this research whenever we travel in the future (no more lazy parents!), we need to provide a lot more information to the caregivers, in case we aren't able to return to the kids quickly. This time we were just across the border on our way to the Vancouver Olympics, but next time we could be flying to Europe or cruising South America! (Hey, it could happen.)
Here’s a link to the easy form I created to hand over to the grandparents along with the kids' overnight bags. The form is meant to be printed on a single page, front & back, and folded in half into a brochure. I included everything my super-organized parent friends could think of. Most people will find this overdone, but it's just a Word Doc and can easily be pared down as needed. If you feel moved to make your own form, this list of the elements in my brochure might be handy:
1. Medical Release to allow caregivers to make medical decisions in my absence
2. Recent photo, height, weight
5. Consent to transport over borders
6. Photocopy of Nexus card
7. Photocopy of passport
8. Location and hours of nearest walk-in-clinic
9. Location of nearest emergency room
10. Contact information for parents
11. Contact information for children’s pediatrician and dentist
I hope this information will help your family too. Update the information at least once a year. I’m going to review it on the kids birthdays as an easy way to remember.
If you have ideas for improvement, please leave a comment!
Good health to all,
Saturday, March 27, 2010
Friday, March 26, 2010
A sample of my newbie Q&A:
q) Do people following 500 tweeters read every tweet? Do they miss important stuff?
a) Actually, they don't bother. Don't be shy about reposting your own tweets several times.
q) Where can I peek at a model service level agreement for all this posting & monitoring I might do for a company?
a) Not many people do this- the field is young. How about you put one out there?
Every answer could have been preceded by a big DUH but instead everyone was quite friendly and supportive.
Here are some pieces of the strategy I'm putting together for the local non-profit I'm working with on social media managment:
Facebook: Use for longer content, videos, and photos.
- Photo permission: When people are clearly identifiable in your photos, get their express permission to be on your Facebook page.
- Videos: Amatuer videos with short, creative content are more exciting and likely to be shared than professional videos.
Twitter: Use for quick idea sharing, volume, easy outreach to possible followers.
- be proactive: instead of just posting and hoping folks come to you, search Twitter posts for questions you can answer, and reach out. Twitter has a new optional locator feature that means you can search by subject & origin (like health questions from Seattle).
- freebies: these are fun but beware of overinflated expectations. There are some people who scan for goodies and won't read otherwise. Make offers sporadic or offer a creatively cost-free prize.
- follow: be a good follower! Check out others doing good work and follow them to learn more. They might follow you back. Social media thrives on multi-way exchanges where older media were one-way.
I'd love to hear what your strategies to find people to help, with the result of providing a service and increasing readership. Thanks!
Saturday, March 20, 2010
I've been making cards for awhile, but things really took off when I discovered card classes. Card-making weekends at Pampered Scrappers or the beach don't hurt either. My very first Amuse class last year happened to be with the ebullient Julie Ebersole. What a find!
This Valentine card was from Julie's class. A year later, I'm remaking the layout for the Amuse challenge, "Her Royal Rubbernes", an ode to Julie and all of her creativity! Thank you to Julie and all the wonderful folks at Amuse for helping us make life sweet.