I've been writing a lot more lately, and it feels like it's completely changed my relationship with this blog. Instead of this being the outlet for the first barage of thoughts, I've only got more distilled information for you.
I find myself wanting to report back from the fields of inquiry, rather than using this as a place for self expression.
Journaling is so wonderful because it really lets me organize my thoughts and gives me this great fodder of jumping off points for inquiry later, when I'm not in a productive or contemplative mood.
Two things have come up lately, both related to works that I'm currently reading.
The first is around investments and returns, precipitated by Benjamin Graham's Intelligent Investor book*. I'm about a quarter of the way through the book (I just finished chapter 4). There's some interesting discussion about T-Bills, municipal bonds, and preferred vs common stock. I spent some time tonight digging into how bonds are valued (what's a discount versus premium bond means, and how to approximately calculate their value to maturity). I added a couple questions around this to Anki, which feels super good. I figured out how to search for Houston municipal bonds in EMMA, and even ran a couple of calculations of what the YTM (yield to maturity) would be for a few of them. It's pretty cool that EMMA will show you the tax-preferred status of bonds in the titles. Some bonds are subject to the AMT. According to the internet, these trade at a bit of a better rate, so if you're not subject to AMT it might be a good deal. (Most salaried people aren't subject to AMT).
I also went through and looked up the current dividend status for all of my current stock holdings. About a quarter of the stocks that I own currently have a dividend. The highest rate was 6.69%, the lowest was 0.23%. Of course, rate is a function of the stock price itself so this fluctuates based on the stock's valuation. A dip in stock price would mean that dividend rate would go up.
The next things I want to look into are: how to invest in bonds using my existing trading account, and what is some currently available corporate paper rates. Write up a small Excel program that can calculate the total return of a stock pick based on both it's stock price gains plus dividends, ideally connected to some data source that can just keep the damn thing updated. Graham's function for how to value a stock was price + dividend return - inflation - tax rate. I'd love to get a calculator that can handle this for me.
Karthik and I were talking about soccer and I realized that soccer, as a game is still in this really young, malleable state. They update the rules for the game constantly, and no one seems super upset about it. They're really far ahead in terms of understanding how to cut out trolls and protect the game, too. They have this amazing policy of not replaying video of fans that rush the field, so as not to encourage copycats. It's both frustrating and also incredibly amazing. They care about the game, and making it better, and it really shows. I'm sure soccer has other problems, but as a game and community it seems really wholesome.
I want to start an ETF for soccer. It would grow marvelously over the next 30 years.
The second thing I've been thinking a lot about lately is networking. This particular train of thought was mediated by starting another book, Ingrid Burrington's Networks of New York. As a preface to reading it, I tried to write down everything that I already knew about computer networks, specifically the Internet, worked. It turns out that I get lost somewhere between "TCP is a packet formation and call/response protocol" and "RS232 is a way of sending data between two computers". What's missing is all of the routing and packet switching info.
Ingrid's book didn't really answer this for me**, so instead I've started reading RFC 791, which lays out the IP (Internet Protocol).
* It's the updated version that was annotated by Jason Zweig around 2002.
** It really reads like more of a who's who and where's what of NYC internet infrastructure.
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