Welcome to Wall Street, Main Street and Me

Saturday, November 26, 2011

She's Alive - Ecology in Art (Main Street)

This video made me uncomfortable. At first, because it seemed so 'contrived' to make its point, but then as I watched,all the more uncomfortable because the point was so well taken, and I was ashamed. And before seeing this, I didn't realize how Dian Fossey had died. Her dedicated work with gorillas made her one of my heroes in my early years.

Be sure and watch it full screen!

This is a non-commercial attempt to highlight the fact that world leaders, irresponsible corporates and mindless 'consumers' are combining to destroy life on earth. It is dedicated to all who died fighting for the planet and those whose lives are on the line today. The cut was put together by Vivek Chauhan, a young film maker, together with naturalists working with the Sanctuary Asia network (www.sanctuaryasia.com).

Content credit: The principal source for the footage was Yann Arthus-Bertrand's incredible film HOME http://www.homethemovie.org/. The music was by Armand Amar.

"When you realize the value of all life, you dwell less on what is past and concentrate on the preservation of the future." – Gorillas in the Mist

Monday, November 14, 2011

Starling Murmurations - (oh my!) (Me)

This is just too gorgeous not to share. Especially if you're a bird lover like me!

Murmuration from Sophie Windsor Clive on Vimeo.

Video of a massive starling flock turning and twisting over a river in Ireland has gone viral, and with good reason. Flocking starlings are one of nature’s most extraordinary sights: Just a few hundred birds moving as one is enough to convey a sense of suspended reality, and the flock filmed above the River Shannon contained thousands.

What makes possible the uncanny coordination of these murmurations, as starling flocks are so beautifully known? Until recently, it was hard to say. Scientists had to wait for the tools of high-powered video analysis and computational modeling. And when these were finally applied to starlings, they revealed patterns known less from biology than cutting-edge physics.

Starling flocks, it turns out, are best described with equations of “critical transitions” — systems that are poised to tip, to be almost instantly and completely transformed, like metals becoming magnetized or liquid turning to gas. Each starling in a flock is connected to every other. When a flock turns in unison, it’s a phase transition.

At the individual level, the rules guiding this are relatively simple. When a neighbor moves, so do you. Depending on the flock’s size and speed and its members’ flight physiologies, the large-scale pattern changes. What’s complicated, or at least unknown, is how criticality is created and maintained.

It’s easy for a starling to turn when its neighbor turns — but what physiological mechanisms allow it to happen almost simultaneously in two birds separated by hundreds of feet and hundreds of other birds? That remains to be discovered, and the implications extend beyond birds. Starlings may simply be the most visible and beautiful example of a biological criticality that also seems to operate in proteins and neurons, hinting at universal principles yet to be understood.


Alligator Defense (OMG!) (Me)

My neighbor called me yesterday. Our resident alligator was hovering just at water's edge in her yard. I walk my dogs out there daily, so she was giving me a heads up to be especially cautious. I hate these critters living so close to me. I went out in the yard and hit a tree loudly with a pole, to make noises, and that damned gator didn't budge. Just sat there, big eyes staring at us. It got me to thinking about what I would do if one ever attacked me(or godforbid, my dogs). So I did a little google search and came up with this: (terrifying thought...but still, better to know...)

Fight back if you're attacked. While the normal behavior of crocodilians is to bite a potential meal (you) and hold on until forcibly removed, they will sometimes (particularly when defending young or territory) deliver a single, quick defensive bite and then immediately let go. If this occurs, just try to get away from the animal as quickly as possible. In predatory attacks, however, as well as in some defensive attacks, the animal doesn't let go and will often try to drag a person into the water or underwater. Crocodilians can stay underwater for much longer than humans can, so the only hope of survival if you're attacked in this manner is to fight back and get away. Simply struggling and trying to pull free is usually futile and may induce the animal to go into an underwater death roll, during which an arm or leg stuck in the crocodile's mouth will likely be ripped off. A purposeful, deliberate attack on the animal is therefore a better option.

Go for the eyes. The most vulnerable part of a crocodile's or alligator's body is its eyes. Try to hit or poke the eyes with whatever you have handy: an oar, a stick, or a knife. Even your hands can be effective weapons if you can hit the animal's eyes. A Florida teenager recently escaped an alligator that had dragged him into the water by jamming his thumb into the alligator's eye.

Go for the nostrils or ears. While not as sensitive as the eyes, the nostrils and ears can be effectively attacked. A hard blow or a cut to either of these areas may cause the animal to release you. Many people have been saved from a crocodile's or alligator's jaws when other people have hit the animal's snout with a pole or club.

Go for the palatal valve. Crocodilians have a flap of tissue behind the tongue that covers their throats when they submerge in water. This flap prevents water from flowing into their throats and hence prevents the crocodile from drowning when its mouth is open. If your arm or leg is stuck in a crocodile's mouth, you may be able to pry this valve down. Water will then flow into the crocodile's throat, and animal will most likely let you go. Hard strikes to this valve may also cause the animal to release you.

Get medical attention promptly. A crocodilian's mouth harbors a tremendous amount of bacteria, and infection is almost guaranteed if a bite is not treated promptly.


(An excerpt from http://www.wikihow.com/Survive-an-Encounter-with-a-Crocodile-or-Alligator)

Sunday, November 13, 2011

My Backyard Ibis Party (Me)

Just glanced outside, and the little ladies of the lake have gathered to gossip and check out alligator action. The ring leader, Miss Sassy, said, "Okay girls, let's give this place the once over."

"How about we sing a chorus of "See You Later, Alligator" -- All together now, one, two, three.."

"She always thinks she's leading the flock. I'm just going to sit this one out."

"Well, if you're going to be stubborn, I'm going to ignore you. Go on, ruin our song."

"Don't try to use child psychology on me."

"I can't hear you. La La La La La"

"Uh oh, I think I see something over there?"

"Where? Where?"

"Point your beak, I don't see it."

"Oh, there's something!~"

"It's just Mrs. Egret.."

"You silly Iboos, get out of the yard, don't you see the Gator coming?"

"Okay ladies, it's time to hit the road."

"And you'd better make it snappy. I'm ready for lunch!"


Thursday, November 10, 2011

The Whipsaw Stock Market (Wall Street)

I am loving my classes at OptionsAnimal. I passed my Level Three test and am now studying bear call and bull call spreads in Level Four. It is very exciting to be doing this in a controlled, campus-style type of education, with tests required to move to the next level. It is VERY different than watching videos and thinking, "oh yeah, got that," and then forgetting it two days later. The "live" classes, the archived DVD's, and the Community make it all very educational. And I am meeting other traders, more advanced than myself, who are helping me and explaining things personally when I have doubts or questions. A gift!

One of those traders is Kris Maynard, who has not only introduced me to a "mentor" - a trading guru who lives right in my neighborhood - but is directly helping/ corresponding with me. This is the information he shared with me this morning, but written yesterday when the market dropped like a stone on news from Italy.

I have just been reviewing the past 12 1/2 weeks of market activity, specifically focusing on the DJIA.

We have had 62 trading days of which only 2 were basically flat. 36 days were up and of those 22 days were up greater than 100 points. There were 7 days in which the DOW had an advance of 200+ pts. and 2 in which the DOW was up over 300 pts.

Down days, although fewer at 24, had a much higher percentage of severely down movements (18 days) with the average down day amounting to a decrease of 190 pts but there were 2 days of more than a 400 pt. decrease and 2 of 300.

The longest winning streak was 5 days (SEPT 12-16) and the longest losing streak was 2 days. No wonder we have been feeling whipsawed. This has made trading a trend almost impossible, at least for me. Even so, the average is up 688 points over that time - but we could lose a great deal of that today.

The point of all of this is, while we must remain cautious on the up days, there is some gratification that the down days have been unable to create momentum beyond a 2 day streak, and overall, the market is up during this very demanding period of trading. It has required us to sharpen our skills as traders which will serve us well in the days to come.

I see no reason at the present to believe that this craziness will end anytime soon.

# Amen, Kris. I don't see it ending soon either!

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Naples Sunset Cruise (Main Street)

Went with neighbors down to Naples Bay and took a sightseeing boat out the channels to watch the sun set over the Gulf.

The biggest surprise was how chilly it was on the water, when we've been having balmy warm days ever since summer ended. We all wrapped up in blankets during the trip, as the wind whipped and made one forget the Floridian sun.

The channels of Naples Bay are lined by waterfront properties that we were told (tour guide) that start at about $5 Million and go all the way up to in excess of $100 Million, per house. It is truly hard to conceive of this much wealth in a small town like Naples. When you add to that the many, many, many luxury towns up and down both coasts of Florida, Boca Raton, Sarasota, Bonita Springs, Palm Beach, too many to name, we are talking about wealth that staggers the imagination. The real kicker to all this was the fact that these homes are purely and simply vacation homes which are occupied for only a few weeks of every year.

We saw homes with tennis courts, Olympic sized pools, entire floors screened in, yards with acres of rolling grass and ancient trees, one home built on three lots, it was so enormous. The 'concept' of big money is something we all are familiar with -- Occupy Wall Street will be sure to remind you, if you forget (and rightfully so, in my opinion) -- but to SEE this lavish display, one enormous mansion after another, was quite a different perspective.

Most of the homes had yachts or motorboats anchored on their private docks. Even the boats were elevated out of the water, for seasonal use only. We didn't see one human being in any of the houses or yards during the whole trip, though the guide assured us that the properties teem with gardeners, housekeepers and maintenance people during the day.

I love America, and making it big is the American dream. So I don't begrudge the wealthy. But in times like we're currently facing, it would be callous of me to ignore the shrinking middle class, the even more impoverished poor, and my own dim circumstances without wondering why the wealthy fight the concept of a more fair distribution of the wealth. Why fight taxation when homes like this stand empty, merely status symbols that do nothing for their owners nor their status. Not even a contribution of $1,000,000 by each of the homeowners in houses valued at more than $5 Million dollars -- by every wealthy family in America - would help end our financial crisis in this country. Actually, there are approximately 3.1 million millionaires in the U.S. and under 500 billionaires, so that wouldn't pay off the $16 Trillion national debt. But an increase in their taxes on an ongoing basis would go a long way to helping. When I worked as an accountant, most of my jobs were for wealthy men, and I can vouch that most of the truly wealthy pay very few taxes. There's a huge industry, bigger than you can imagine, working to make sure there are loopholes, write offs, and tax shelters for the rich. The 1%-ers take their clients on trips and to country clubs and yacht clubs like this one, and write it all off as business expense.

Naples Yacht Club

But, besides a mental review of what's wrong with this country today, we also saw dolphins in the water. They like to ride the waves, and are a joy to behold.

When we stopped where Naples Bay meets the Gulf of Mexico, there is a tiny beach, many pelicans, and our guide said this spot is the only one on earth where crocodiles (salt water) and alligators (fresh water> cohabit. The Gulf was choppy, and when the sun sank down below the horizon, it was easy to forget our politics, our problems and how brief time our time on earth is to enjoy it.