Saturday, January 29, 2011

Lobotomy Bock Full Strength

Yesterday I stopped off at the Indian Wells Brewery and was pleased to discover that they sell the full strength Lobotomy Bock. I bought myself 2 cases. Here's the rub: the cases are not packed with all the same strength. Each case, and also each 6-pack, was packed with a mixture of the full strength and the weak versions. The young man there helped me to repack a couple cases with all full strength bottles.

Here's how you spot the difference. The full strength bottles have the old labels that clearly say "10.8%". I circled it in blue on the photo. The weaker version has no marking in that location on the label. Rick (founder of Indian Wells Brewery) kindly informed me that the weaker brew has an alcohol content of 7.2%.

Aqueduct Road

I needed to get some fresh air so I went for a drive yesterday. I decided to drive the service road for the second Los Angeles Aqueduct. I drove the section from Jawbone Canyon OHV area north to Indian Wells. Here are some quick facts about the 2nd aqueduct. It was completed in 1970 after 5 years of construction. The cost was $89 million. It's comprised of 64 miles of concrete conduit, 69 miles of steel pipeline and 4 miles of "other facilities" for a total of 137 miles. The service road was well maintained and is far enough from the highway to make it a very peaceful and scenic drive.

The photo below shows Five Fingers, a popular rock climbing area. I've driven that road going up the hill, and it's quite steep and sandy in places. A little unnerving on the descent.

At Indian Wells, I picked up some of my favorite beer. Then I returned south by driving the service road for the HVDC Pacific DC Intertie. This road was a little rugged. I never had to raise the suspension, but I did have to go 5 mph in several places and even slower over some rocky sections.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Volatility is Your New Best Friend

I just finished "The Little Book of Sideways Markets - How to Make Money in Markets That Go Nowhere," by Vitaliy Katsenelson. I liked this book. It was interesting, especially the historical overview of bull, bear, and sideways markets - both secular and cyclical. The book presents some value investing frameworks for selecting stocks during sideways markets and for holding them over much shorter time frames than traditional value investors would. It also contains a fair amount of the common guidance material in all books about investing. The part about P/E compression during sideways markets was new to me and interesting. This can even influence where to place long term positions during those periods.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Zion NP East Side and Progeny Peak

I still haven't posted a blog entry about my last hike up Progeny Peak, but I'll get to that some day. For now, I'd like to share some photos. Some are taken from the summit of Progeny Peak facing south, and some are from the rocks on the south side of Highway 9 facing Progeny Peak. The 1st photo below is taken from the summit of Progeny Peak looking south. I've labeled the places where I took the next photos.

I really enjoy hiking around the east side of the park. Often it starts out innocent enough. I see something from the road and wonder if I can hike there. Then I do that. Later at home, I examine the photos I took along the way, or from that location, and I see new and interesting places to explore. So then my next visit includes hikes to those new places. This has gone on for years and it never gets old. The photo below is taken from the placed marked (A) in the top photo, looking north toward Progeny Peak.

The photo below is taken from the place marked (B) in the top photo, again looking toward Progeny Peak. I've hiked up/down that very steep sandstone face several times. It is dangerous and I'd rate it as class 4. I wear leather gloves, just in case I slip and need to arrest myself without losing all the flesh from my hands. I also wear extremely grippy shoes.

The photo below is taken from the place marked (C) in the top photo. Once up the steep hill, I've found a relatively easy route to reach the north rim of Parunuweap Canyon.

The next photo is taken from Progeny summit looking a bit to the southwest. On one trip I hiked out across that rock to a place right above the tunnel entrance and ranger post.

The next shot shows Progeny Peak from that vantage point (labeled as D in the shot above). It's hard to make out Progeny's summit, so I circled it.

And the next one is looking down at the ranger from that location.

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

Two More Books

I finished two more books. First, The Prince by Machiavelli. I listened to the free audiobook version of W.K. Marriott's translation that is available from librivox.org. The book was more interesting than I expected. What I didn't like was the change in readers. People volunteer to read books for librivox and the chapters of this one were read by several different people. Chip, from Tampa Florida, was the best reader. Others were kind of annoying. One guy inserts long pauses for dramatic effect. ugh After I had finished, I noticed that librivox has another version read by a single person. Now I'd like to find a modern book that relates The Prince to modern business practices. I've found a couple on Amazon and I might order one.

I also listened to "The Rational Optimist" by Matt Ridley. I did not enjoy this book. I can't quite put my finger on why. For me, it was boring and I didn't learn anything of interest to me. I suspect that my expectations where inconsistent with the author's intent. Translation: I should have read the descriptions more carefully and thereby avoided the book. My bad.

Sunday, January 02, 2011

Improving Your Management Skills

Bob Sutton has a new blog entry that reproduces a list of the most popular management blog posts at Harvard Business Review. Bob is happy that his post is rated number one. I liked his, as well as a few others. If you manage anyone, then you'll likely find some good advice in there.

Another recent HBR blog post I liked wasn't in the list. It's titled "Are You a Good Boss - Or a Great One?" I think its message is also applicable if you replace "manager" with many other domains, such as "engineer" or "student" or "athlete" or (you get the idea). I think it's common for all of us to stop working on our skills, and even to observe that as long as we're not failing then we must be doing ok.