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Showing posts from July, 2008

How turning a profit and boosting revenues turns out badly

Rogers came out with its quarterly earnings today. I have 122.26993 Rogers B shares through the company share acquisition plan. The "book value" -- which considers the average price paid for the shares -- is $5106.36. At this moment, the shares are worth $4252.55. A difference of a little more than $850. See, the shares fell today. Fell about 5%. According to, "Rogers said it earned C$301 million, or 47 Canadian cents per share, in the three months ended June 30. That compares with a loss of C$56 million, or 9 Canadian cents, in the same period a year earlier. Adjusted net income rose to C$364 million, or 57 Canadian cents a share, from C$299 million, or 47 Canadian cents." Sounds keen, huh? Earnings are way up, net income is up, profit is up. So why the heck would the shares fall like this? I asked 680News money honey Leah Walker, and she summed it up: the results missed analysts' estimates. Ah, of course. Forbes explains, "Ana

Credit-hating film director suspects blogger is "a big ass"

You never know who'll be reading a blog ... or comments written on another blog. Some time ago, I wrote a little bit about a documentary called In Debt We Trust: Danny Schechter takes on the credit industry from the point of view that people who fall victim to crushing debt are hapless victims of an exploitative monster industry. While I don't disagree that Americans in particular have been buried by sometimes questionable practices of credit companies, I felt the film let the consumers off the hook too easily. Yes, people are sucked in by too-good-to-be-true offers which shouldn't be offered in the first place. Yes, people are sucked under by payday loans. But after all the reading I've been doing lately, the reality that spending less than you make is the key to staying afloat is virtually ignored. The film portrays slow death by debt as a virtual inevitability in American society. I really did like the spooky prescience of the movie's portrayal of the housing bub

What I learned from my credit report

With the possibility of an attempt at home ownership coming up, I thought it prudent to order copies of my credit reports. I keep hearing that it's smart to check them regularly to make sure they're correct and ... well, good, I guess. I sent off the required photocopies and forms to the major credit reporting agencies in Canada, Equifax and TransUnion . Equifax got back to me within a couple of weeks. TransUnion has not. Last time I tried this, I sent one of them insufficient copies of my documentation, and got my info from one and a "sorry, can't help you" letter from the other. I'm hoping I didn't do the same thing this time. So, here's what I learned from Equifax: Everything's fine . My file was opened in the fall of 1994, which must've been when I got my first Mastercard. They have my current address correct, and my previous two addresses. They have correct info about my employer. The report shows credit inquiries from the car

Subscribing to Big Ass Superstar

Hey! Loyal visitor! Did you know that you don't have to remember to come here all the time to read my junk? The technically gifted among you may have been able to figure this out before, but I've set it up to become a lot easier to subscribe . A service called Feedburner has made it simple for me to offer a subscription feed of BigAssSuperstar articles and my Flickr photos. I'm no expert, but once you're hooked up, you read this web site's content in a news reader, or through your My Yahoo, or any number of other software thingamajiggies. So, get hooked up by clicking on the XML link in the sidebar, or just click these words here and follow along .

Surprising news about BNL Steven Page

I see hundreds -- thousands? -- of news stories every week. It's my job. And I'm rarely surprised by what I read and hear. A bombing in Afghanistan? Sad, but not surprising. A mother murdering her children? Tragic and disturbing, but not surprising. Oil is up and the stock market is down? Expensive, but not surprising. Barenaked Ladies frontman Steven Page arrested for cocaine possession? WTF?! From a Canadian Press article: ... patrolling police noticed a suspicious car with its driver's side door left open and found a man and woman in a nearby apartment with a white capsule in front of them. Bleyle said the pair were later found to be in possession of cocaine. "In the process of making the arrest, the girl he (Page) was with identified him as the lead singer for the group," Bleyle said from Manlius, just outside Syracuse. "He subsequently said, 'Yes, I play the guitar and sing."' Stephanie Ford, 25, was charged with criminal pos

Getting more, paying less

As much as I simply adore the idea of having an HDTV, I'm perpetually putting off the purchase. As mentioned several times here, I want the fun but I don't wanna pay the price. I could justify buying a new screen, but I couldn't justify paying a lot more for digital cable, HD cable, an HD cable box and perhaps the full overhaul and upgrade of Little Eddie Dingle, the Home Theatre PC which serves us plenty well on old-school low-def teevee. But the esteemed author at I've Paid Twice For This Already writes about an experience this week that made it a lot more palatable : Well, right now at least, switching to digital and HD service from our extended basic service, and keeping our other services, we are eligible for another 12 months of an introductory special, which is about $20 less than we currently pay right now. And it includes the HD box. After the twelve months is up, the price goes up to $7 more a month than we currently pay for extended basic. So upgradi

What I don't know about my money

I've been flummoxed over the past two or three pay periods by running out of cash in my chequing account. I mean, I'm spending below my means. At least I *think* am. Between my regular income and my side income, I'm definitely taking in more dough than I'm putting out. That, I'm pretty sure of. But about a week after payday, I run out of money in my chequing account. I wondered how this could possibly be happening, so I printed out two months' worth of account activity, and Amanda brought her mad math sk!llz to the table to sort things out. The biggest cash-money outlay is for those nasty nasty cigarettes. It's stupid and crappy, so let's just acknoweldge that and get it out of the way. Transportation is the next big chunk, between taxis and bus tickets. That's reduced, though, since I now walk home from work almost every day. I *was* spending $5 or more each day on chocolate milk, energy drinks and frequent cinnamon buns. But since a trip to Costco

Subtle self-sabotage or simple stupidity

Oh, this week was going so well. So well. Last night I hand-washed my taekwondo uniform, carefully cleansing the loose white bottoms and new black t-shirt in separate loads. I set them out to dry, putting them in the best locations to be ready for morning. Yesterday I transferred some money into my chequing account and withdrew enough so I'd be sure to have enough cash for cab fare to get to class. This morning I got up a few minutes early, put my contact lenses in my backpack, carefully folded my uniform, got a towel from the closet and put it all in my gym bag. Zipped it all up and got it ready to go. Then I set off for my day. And about five minutes away from home, past the point of no return, deadline-wise, I realized I was missing something. My gym bag. Damn.

Hacker's Diet links, articles and resources

A dude who ate a lot of cheeseburgers and drank a lot of Mountain Dew . A good summary of the basics of the diet, with a graph. A guy who lost ten pounds in ten days with the Hacker's Diet and other tools. Five things to know about the Hacker's Diet The Physics Diet is a charting and logging site inspired by the Hacker's Diet -- gives fancypants graphs for people following the math principles behind the plan "Weightloss for Nerds" discovers both eHow articles focusing on the diet A group at the Daily Plate for HD followers Lifehacker has a look A Wordpress plugin for people who use that blog software MetaGrrrl takes on the diet for a while That's just a few. Throw in a good calorie counter site like , or the epic and you're good to go. I've also heard good things about for food logging.

On the value of exercise

New reader holymotherofgod and others have pointed out the value of exercise, and I don't want my last post about the Hacker's Diet to mislead anyone about my attitude about exercise. I'm all for it! The "What, Me Exercise?" chapter in the Hacker's Diet explains -- and I can agree on some level -- that exercise alone won't solve a weight problem... or at the very least, you shouldn't be adopting exercise with the sole goal of getting thin without considering other things. A solid one-hour walk, non-stop, will burn barely more calories than a peanut butter sandwich. I'm not saying don't walk -- I'm saying cutting out the sandwich will have about the same impact on weight loss, and walking plus sandwich-not-eating gets double the bang. So, why exercise? Here's what I understand, without having to look it all up to convince myself: Resistance training builds muscle. More muscle means more metabolic activity, so you can burn even more ca

A little less conversation, a little more action

Thanks to everyone for the feedback over the weekend. jojo, sandra, lilsis, anonymous and everyone were able to zero in on my big nasty character flaw in this matter: planning everything to death, yet doing nothing concrete to solve the problem. The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step -- but more often than not, I'm too busy fussing with my shoelaces and checking the weather. I know well enough that worrying about a problem does nothing to solve it. Taking action does. It's good to learn enough so one can be reasonably sure that one is taking the right action, but sometimes doing *anything* useful is better than bogging oneself down with endless refinements of the perfect plan. In the vernacular of my adopted homeland -- "get 'er done!" .... alternatively, "just giv'er!" So, this weekend, I ramped up the enthusiasm by reading The Hacker's Diet . Nothing revolutionary here in the theory -- in fact, it's a step backward from

Translatable obsessiveness, part 3

I was stumbling around some personal finance blogs and happened upon an enlightening post by Mr. Cheap at Quest For Four Pillars . Two years ago today I was reading Kevin Smith's "Silent Bob Speaks" and in one passage he wrote about always feeling like his weight was something "he'd deal with later when it got really serious". This startled me a little, as I felt exactly the same way (although I didn't see myself as being quite as big as Mr. Smith). So, Mr. Cheap read a book by John Walker called The Hacker's Diet . He applied the knowledge, lost weight, and has kept it off. And through doing so, he learned some parallels between personal finance and weight loss: Things like the value to knowing as much as possible about your weight (or networth) and the true quality of the food you're eating (or your investments). There are different ways to make changes, such as exercise (or earning more income) and diet (spending less money). If you o

Translatable obsessiveness, part 2

Here are two thoughts about how the personality quirks I noted in part 1 may be standing in my way. First, I'm about learning and knowing. I learn and learn and learn. I gather information and re-read the same stuff in endless permutations, jumping from basics to advanced to way-beyond-my-comprehension, back to advanced, back to basic and over and over until I either thoroughly get it and get it completely ... or I reach the ceiling of my comprehension and just let it be. But I don't have a consistently great record for taking action with that knowledge. Sure, I knew a lot about computers -- but did I build a good web site? No, I build an okay web site and let it sit. Sure, I learned a lot about Scientology -- but did I do anything significant to stop them? No, I told everyone I knew the evils of Scientology and chatted with folks at the Toronto Org a few times. Sure, I read a ton about money management -- but did I get rich? No, not yet. I'm building a sizeable cache of

Translatable obsessiveness, part 1

As alluded to in other posts in recent months, I may be on the cusp of shifting obsessions again. My personality is such that I tackle a subject that interests me with intensity and passion, devouring and synthesizing information and theory in such a way that I annoy those close to me with my focus and excitement. I become a zealot. An evangelist. A nerd. Or as my sister recently observed in a comment on this blog, a little Asperger syndrome -y. I dig in and don't stop until I get saturated with the subject matter. That doesn't mean I become a full-fledged expert on anything. That's the other part of my personality. Sure, my rabid consumption of all things Scientological (from the point of view that it's ridiculous and evil) brought my knowledge of the subject several orders of magnitude beyond what any casual observer might know -- but I never went out and picketed or took a course. I became an expert, but among experts, I'm sure I'd still be considered a