Sunday, April 15, 2018

Sunday, Kids day.

This morning we went to First Presbyterian Church in Joliet, LL's church growing up and her parents' current church. They have a children's minister and they kids leave about 1/4 of the way into the service.  There's a playroom for them after some bible interpretation. Anyway, the kids first go up to the front of the church, sit on the alter steps with the children's minister and he talks to them about a theme for the day.

Today was Thomas' first time walking up front! He went up with Marissa and they were up there with the alter boy and one other young boy. The minister, Bo, started talking about friends. He said Jesus had friends, they were called the disciples. He asked the kids, how many disciples were there? He turned towards Thomas, who promptly responded while extending his fingers as if to count on them, "Probably three or four."  Needless to say, that drew quite a laugh.

After getting the right count on record, Bo proceeded. Do you guys have friends? Who are some of your friends? Instead of responding, Marissa just grabbed Thomas and started hugging him.  There was an audible "Awwww" from the congregation.

Bo went on: one way to get to know and be friends with God is through the bible. Do you have a bible? Thomas jumped in: "No, I don't have a bible." He does by the way. "But we can get one at the store." 

Marissa made a comic book today. Here are the pages:

This is the virus, though I'm pretty sure she initially called it an octopus. Those are gems that the virus is after.

Here, the virus is starting to collect the gems.

And now it has the gems and is happy!

Then, trouble is brewing and lightning strikes (I think). 

And the virus meets "certain death". Though the story has been revised a bit where the virus doesn't actually die. It sort of turns into orange juice and slips away, escaping certain death. 

So it was a pretty eventful day with the kids today!!

Monday, March 26, 2018

A discussion on reincarnation

Well this is certainly an odd topic and not one that I would come by naturally I don’t think. However, the other week I saw a YouTube video, or at least the start of one, from a motivational speaker who was talking about a woman who had been legally dead for some amount of time and was revived. He (or the doctors or someone) asked her if she saw heaven. She said, “How do I know I’m not in heaven now?”

It posed an interesting question to me when you compare our lives to those of so many people from 40 years ago to 4,000 years ago: would our lives not be heaven-like to oh so many people? Even in today’s world, there are certainly those of us who are living lives that others on the planet would think are heavenly. But if they are alive and I’m alive, the reincarnation thing doesn’t work, so I have to go back in time for my subjects.

In the 1950’s, would not someone think it’s heavenly to have the communication, electronics, improved transportation and even microwaves? And that’s not to mention the medicinal improvements. 

If you go back to the 1930’s, it’s all of those things and more! The 1800’s and you mention cars, supermarkets, the availability of clean water, sewage treatment, indoor plumbing, cures for polio and a much lower infant mortality rate; would that not be heavenly? All of that and it would just be my great grandparent’s soul that I possess.

But the 1800’s would also seem heavenly to someone from the 1500’s right? And the 1500’s to someone from the 800’s. And so on. So maybe our souls are reincarnated right here on the earth, with new one’s added periodically to keep up with the population. Or maybe not. Maybe the number of souls has been constant, but many never made it to being born. Heaven to them would have just been given the chance TO live.

Just something I’ve been thinking about.

Sunday, January 07, 2018


Bitcoin, Money, Decentralized, Virtual

If anything other than the year of T-Rump, 2017 was the year of cryptocurrencies. I’ll let you look up what they are and their returns as that’s not the point of this entry. What I do want to discuss is MY experience buying Bitcoin.

Over the last few years I’ve known a few people that have owned Bitcoin and until last year really didn’t know much about any of the other cryptos. Heck, even Bitcoin was a bit of a mystery and at one point last year I even told Lovely Laura that Bitcoin is either the next internet or the next tulip craze. Even now I don’t know which it is, though I’m leaning towards the latter. If I believed that, why buy it? Because you don’t really have to believe in something to make money on it. For years I held Phillip Morris stock, despite not having smoked anything in my life. Those people I knew who owned it though.....they believed in it. REALLY believed in it. Almost blindly believed in it. 

Stocks. That’s a nice segue into my next section: valuation. There are no earnings or dividends or even assets behind Bitcoin. Hell, nobody even really knows who invented it!! In those ways it is dramatically different from a stock, but is not terribly different from a hard asset such as gold, silver, etc. If you buy gold, you don’t get earnings or dividends, you don't know who made it (for sure at least)  and its value (unless you personally make jewelry or computer boards) is dependent solely on demand. Bitcoins valuation is almost solely dependent on demand with its supply relatively fixed. Other cryptos have different levels of supply, some more fixed than others. XRP or Ripple is a crypto that’s owned by one company. They control 60 billion of the 100 billion potential Ripple. Every month they may, or may not, make another billion Ripple available in the market place as they are essentially in a series of CD’s that mature every month. If they are not put into the market, they are put back into the CD with an expiration in the month following the last current CD due date. But Bitcoin’s supply, while not completely in “circulation”, fluctuations are minuscule compared to the float. Demand is what drives Bitcoin.

In the month leading up to Thanksgiving, Bitcoin was making some impressive gains moving from $5k to $7,500, after being under $1,000 in January of 2017.  With those kinds of returns, I could just picture families getting together for Thanksgiving and talking about all sorts of things, but definitely cryptos would come up for those who were invested and probably even for those not. Who doesn’t want to stick it to Uncle Lou for mocking your investment in Bitcoin that was now worth 8 times what you invested (at least)!! Then news that the CBOE would begin trading contracts on Bitcoin starting in mid December fueled even more action in Bitcoin. Personally, I felt the listing on the CBOE would legitimize the asset class and would lead to further upside in Bitcoin.

As the price held and continued to rise even, I decided to open an account with Coinbase, the largest of the e-wallets that sell Bitcoin. You can buy with a credit card or link it to your checking account, though my first purchase was limited to $2,500. After it settled, my weekly transaction amount went up to $5,000.  It's very convenient and slick, so I can see how they became so popular. I was not alone however. 

The weekend of Thanksgiving, Coinbase opened over 100,000 new accounts! Apparently Uncle Lou heard the success stories and was convinced to get in on it. By the time the CBOE started trading futures contracts, Bitcoin was up over $18,000.

Then, demand dried up. But not only did demand falter, that economic boon of being listed on the CBOE came home to roost. You see, for the last eight years or so, you could poo-poo Bitcoin, but you couldn’t bet AGAINST it. There was no financial way to sell it short or bet that the price would drop. Suddenly, not only could you do that, but the PROS could do it. People who manage positions in asset classes everyday could do it. Future cab drivers, who are new to the investing game, could do it (haven’t we all ridden with a cabbie who used to trade on the exchange but lost all their money?).  Though there was a small run up, to about $20K, there was swift downward pressure applied and the value went scurrying below $13k. Having made close to 30% in a day or two, those contracts were covered by purchases or were sold and the value rebounded slightly to the low $14,000’s.  Eventually I sold in the $16,000’s and made about 40% on my investment which was great (paid for Christmas!), but some lessons were learned.

First, you need to know what’s driving the price and value of an asset. Is it earnings, expectations of earnings, dividends, expectations of dividends or just pure speculation? Second, if it’s pure speculation, you have to be ready to bail at any moment and not be tied to selling at a given price to make a profit. If the market turns, it will turn quickly. This is why well known investors (like Buffett) and leaders (like the top financial guy in the UK) said you could lose everything by investing in cryptos. Third, can investors bet against the asset? If you can’t bet against the asset, it’s really just a speculation, demand driven gamble. Those can be just fine, but you need to be able to identify it for what it is (like going to Vegas) and not bet the house (also like going to Vegas).

I’ve been in finance all my adult life and have a finance degree from the University of Illinois and I completely missed how important the last point is. What I thought would be a legitimizing boon for Bitcoin, will ultimately lead to its demise.

While all of this was going on, the government stepped in as well and told Coinbase that they needed to hand over the records for anyone having transactions involving more than $20,000 in a year. That really is another hit to the demand side of the equation as what was a viable way to exchange large sums of funds for potentially illegal or immoral transactions was now severely limited.

What will happen to the crypto currency world and Bitcoin? I have no idea. Am I glad I took my money and ran? Yes, yes I am. 

Monday, June 05, 2017

A little June update

So much going on today and this weekend that I had to make an entry. Let's start with the good things.

Marissa had her first ballet recital. She did pretty well for four years old. Quite frankly, even the high school kids were underwhelming for what I imagine to be years and years of training. The hip-hop kids seemed to have some good skills though. Anyway, the important thing is that Marissa enjoys it, despite getting up for class on Saturday morning. We'll see if that continues at older ages!!

Next up is young master Thomas, who, while mimicking Marissa's dance moves the night before her recital, took a tumble and broke his foot....on the carpet....without any collision whatsoever. Just a freak accident. Two to four weeks in a cast.

Other than not wanting to walk too far on it, he really didn't complain much. All the doctors mentioned what a great patient he was. 

Next up is the passing of yet another high school classmate: Terry Smith. Terry was a really nice kid with whom I played some sports as a kid. He had a dry wit, but was very funny and nice to everyone. It's a loss for all of us. My dad used to coach him in football and Terry always spoke highly of my pops. 

In the world of real estate today, I had not one but two agents set up inspections at homes I was listing, without telling me!! Who does that?? I always go through the agent when setting up inspections for my clients. This why I got into the business: incompetent brokers. Or more appropriately, keeping incompetent brokers away from my family and friends. One of them at least had a somewhat reasonable excuse; her father was hospitalized last week and she had to make an emergency trip out of state and just forgot to let me know. The other guy is just an ass. 

This summer I have three bachelor parties to attend....3!! But, when you're 51 and still playing softball, your 30-35 year old buddies start to get married. One though is only 25 I think...if that, but he's the son of a good buddy of mine that sits next to me at Bears games. So it's going to be a busy summer. Just need Joisey Ken to get his shit together so we can finalize our summer trip with the families! LOL!! Luv ya Ken!! 

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Bears draft 2017

As I sit down at my computer to type on this cold and dreary last day of April, I was faced with two topics: a letter to the 18 year old Marissa of the future or my thoughts on recapping the just held 2017 NFL draft. The former is not for public consumption, so that would have been in a Word document that would get printed out and placed with my letter to the 18 year old Thomas, in a safe place. Each year now, I plan to write one of those letters and maybe include my favorite pictures. Should be pretty awesome. While I'm trying to get family members to do it as well, they have not complied so far. We'll see.

So YOU get my thoughts on the Bears draft!! Lucky you.

As you may know, the Bears had the #3 overall pick and traded up to the #2 pick by giving away two third round picks this year and a fourth round pick next year. They were most likely bidding against themselves by making this move as SF, who had the #2 pick, had no interest in Mitch Trubiskey (he of 13 college starts out of NC, from where no Pro-Bowl QB's have hailed. The Bears WERE fielding calls from other teams looking to trade up though, but either those teams weren't willing to pay up (most likely) or the Bears didn't want to move.

Here's where it gets more interesting. GM Ryan Pace and the Bears didn't just give up three picks and the #3 pick for Trubiskey, they also TURNED DOWN at least two more picks if they would have moved down in the draft even one spot!! Probably more if they moved down to 10 or 12. So when you hear the Bears gave up four picks for him, it's really at least SIX. That's more than half of an entire starting offense or defense. That's incredible.

Instead, the Bears took Mitch the Bitch and gave up the picks. Then they chose a DII tight end who the scouts say is a "beast" and "demolished" the opposition. Yeah, well a guy who is 6'6" and 275 is going demolish anyone in DII. That's why those other guys are in DII?? Put me in Pop Warner and I'm going to score a 100 TD's too because I'm going to demolish much smaller players. We had a need at TE, though it was one of our lesser needs, but Pace, who worked in New Orleans with Brees and Graham and Sproles before coming to Chicago, is trying to surround his new QB with weapons. We won't be able to stop anyone on defense, but maybe we'll score. Not this year though.

The Bears first fourth round pick was a CB or S out of Alabama who broke his leg last year after tearing his ACL in the other leg two years ago. So he's basically a cripple. Who needs legs to play football??

Their second pick of the fourth round was Pace's "Darren Sproles guy"; small (5'6") sort of fast, who can a midget.

Their 5th round pick was a DII left tackle who projects as a guard in the NFL, but maybe he'll still play left tackle. Oh yeah, he's out of Kuntztown State. I'll let you look that one up.

So a cripple, a midget and two DII players added on to a QB that was passed up by two teams who also needed a QB, but understand that you build winning teams through defense first. Oh yeah, don't forget that NEXT year's crop of college QB's is actually supposed to be talented, unlike this year's. So now, when we are picking top 5 again because nobody we just added will start, we'll PASS on those talented QB's to give this guy a shot. That's terrible. And yes, I said none of these guys will start. The Bears are 3-13 and they just held a draft taking 5 players and none of them will start. Possibly, possibly the TE will, but that's doubtful too.

What they should have done was stayed put and taken Jamal Adams at #3. IF they needed to trade down, it would have depended how far down they went. Adams slid to #6 with the Jets, which was a steal. They could have added a Budda Baker type in the second round and really solidified their DB's. Two third round picks could have netted the likes of Duane Smoot at DE or Daeshon Hall at DE or maybe you take Deshone Kizer in the second round and see what happens. Davis Webb went in the third at QB, so he was an option.

As a season ticket holder who actually has to pay money to see the team play, unlike those Bears fans who can sit at home on Sunday, I want to see a better product on the field now. Not adding any starters in the draft will not get there. My draft grade: D-.

Sunday, October 09, 2016

Random thoughts for an October Sunday

This morning I was up early to get some coffee at my nearby Starbucks and then go to church with my family (we go to different churches, but they are near each other). On my way, I saw this wonderful site from the road and had to stop and take a picture.

It just made me think of how beautiful nature can be.

In church, the gospel from a few weeks ago was Luke 16, 19-31 which I'll reproduce here:

Luke 16:19-31New International Version (NIV)

The Rich Man and Lazarus

19 “There was a rich man who was dressed in purple and fine linen and lived in luxury every day. 20 At his gate was laid a beggar named Lazarus, covered with sores 21 and longing to eat what fell from the rich man’s table. Even the dogs came and licked his sores.
22 “The time came when the beggar died and the angels carried him to Abraham’s side. The rich man also died and was buried. 23 In Hades, where he was in torment, he looked up and saw Abraham far away, with Lazarus by his side. 24 So he called to him, ‘Father Abraham, have pity on me and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, because I am in agony in this fire.’
25 “But Abraham replied, ‘Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, while Lazarus received bad things, but now he is comforted here and you are in agony. 26 And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been set in place, so that those who want to go from here to you cannot, nor can anyone cross over from there to us.’
27 “He answered, ‘Then I beg you, father, send Lazarus to my family,28 for I have five brothers. Let him warn them, so that they will not also come to this place of torment.’
29 “Abraham replied, ‘They have Moses and the Prophets; let them listen to them.’
30 “‘No, father Abraham,’ he said, ‘but if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent.’
31 “He said to him, ‘If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.’”

Now, why would I bother with a gospel passage? Well, I did not remember ever hearing this particular passage and it's very compelling on several fronts. One is that we all have had "pacts" with someone that if they die first, we'll come back and tell them what the other side is like (hopefully while not scaring them). Per this passage, that won't be possible and based on this passage, it's unnecessary. I love the cynicism of Abraham here towards humans: even someone coming back from the dead won't convince people (and Christians believe this has already transpired once!).  There's also no way to help those in hell, even if you're in heaven at the right hand of the Lord. That's disappointing.
While at church, St. Rays in Joliet, I saw this display in the foyer of the church: 

That Cardinal, Daniel Kucera, is the one who presided over my confirmation. Just an interesting note.

While Marissa was at school one morning last week and I was on daddy duty, I sat out back with coffee while Thomas sat out back on the stoop with a snack. It was a good morning.

Another day this week, Thomas and I took in some TV while trying to get ready for the day.

It's Bears season and even though they aren't good, we do have fun tailgating!

Me, E-Money and Chrizzo at the Bears/Lions game....only our second win in the last 12 home games.

I've added a touch of class to the tailgate! A tablecloth!

Okay, it's not MINE, but I am able to use it regularly. Good advertising for the company!

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Pumpkin Patch visit!

It's been a while and I posted these pics on Facebook, but here they are for my blog readers as well.

All is good here in our household by the way, just too busy to keep up with the blog right now. We let our nanny go and that means extra time with the kids during the day. It's all good!