I had my first crack at trading stocks sometime around 1981 or 1982, which would put me around 5th grade. My father was going to buy some Johns Manville stock, and I had recently come into some small amount of money, and so he offered to let me piggyback his order.

From the corporate history, we find the following entry:


  • Manville Corporation files for Chapter 11.
  • Manville and certain of its subsidiaries file (individually) for protection under Chapter 11 of the Bankruptcy Reform Act of 1978 in U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York.

Okay, that one didn’t turn out so well. However, if you look at their current front page, they have this to say: “Johns Manville, a Berkshire Hathaway company, is a leading manufacturer…” There’s almost no greater accolade than getting bought by Warren Buffet, so I guess it turned out well for the company in the long run.

Here’s the interesting thing. I don’t remember having any regret over the transaction. There were risks, I lost, life went on.

WordPress up and running

I think I’ve got the site now fully functional using WordPress. To put the new comment spam capabilities I’ve added with WordPress through their paces, I’ve turned on comments on all the posts in the archive… we’re about to find out how well Akismet works.

If there is a post or two in the archive to which you’ve always wanted to add your two cents, now is your chance.

A Poem by Abigail, age 7

I thought Abigail was in bed going to sleep. I was wrong. She was busy composing, and just brought down the fruits of her labor. May I present a poem by my daughter Abigail, age 7 (reproduced as accurately as possible).

Christmas Dinner

people are commy to Dine with us,
and evrywon is in a rush.
evrywon is glad were here,
evrywon sees the watter is shiny clere.
the wine is very yummy,
I want to fill my tummy.
the tukey is big and fat,
the turtey** is nice and flat.
the fruit is very good,
I should try some evreywon would.
the salled has lots of fruit inside,
evreywon dosint set food aside.
theirs lots of rice,
and oh the cake was very nice.

** Editor’s note: I had her clarify this word. It is ‘tortilla’.

Trading Thoughts

No, I don’t want to swap brains. I’m referring to my thoughts on trading stocks. For those of you who don’t know it already, I’ve been knee deep in trading for several years, and have decided to open up a new category (aptly named “Trading”) to begin passing along my insights and stories on the topic… mostly failures, but also some successes.

Last year, my Schedule D (reporting sales of stocks for my federal income tax) was around 26 pages long. But I didn’t start there. No, my early forays into trading were quite discreet and targeted. However, I wasn’t what I consider a stock trader at the time, so I’m not going to emphasize that pre-history, other than to briefly cover it in a post or two. For those interested, what did I consider myself as I traded stocks but wasn’t a stock trader? A dabbler. But more on that later.

Another Nicolas-ism

I suppose this may be funnier to me as I am this little boy’s mother, but I got such a giggle out of his interaction with me at breakfast this morning.

The children had requested hot cocoa with their cereal, which I gladly prepared for them. As I handed them their china teacups (we always drink our cocoa from “big-person” cups), Nicolas looked quite concerned and then asked,

“Mommy, where is my tea plate? Can I please have my tea plate?” (I’d skipped the “tea plates” in my haste to get them eating).

So, Nicolas learned a new term: “saucer”. And I learned that I have taught him to expect all the proper parts of the place setting when he drinks his fine cocoa.

Porting to WordPress

I’m in the midst of porting from MovableType to WordPress. Though I’m not done by any means, I’ve switched the front page over to the WordPress version to make it easier to port/test. Watch you step.

One last note on Goliath

A few weeks ago, Tricia and I noticed that we have been delinquent in teaching Nicolas his Bible stories… well, Tricia noticed it and called me at work to let me know. So I came home to assess the situation. And I will let our gentle readers know that in the intervening time much progress has been made to alleviate the situation… but enough of defensive disclaimers, I must now recount the initial bit of my assessment.

Jay: Who made the ark?

Nicolas: God.

Jay: Well… (thinking: Hmmm… I’m a good Calvinist. There’s a profound truth in what he says. But I don’t think he has a clue.) No. God didn’t make the ark. He had Noah make the ark. With a hammer.

Jay: Who was Jesus’ mother?

Nicolas: God.

Jay: No, Nicolas, stop goofing off. Who was Jesus’ mother?

Nicolas: Goliath?

Goliath the dog

In my post Samson and Goliath, I said:

Goliath himself understood (sort of) that the God of Israel was treating him as a joke. “Am I a dog, that you come to me with sticks?” (see 1 Samuel 17:43) he asks rhetorically… only it turns out it wasn’t merely rhetorical, it was actually worth pondering, because the answer was a resounding “Yes!” This too parallels Samson, when the 30 companions answer his riddle with rhetorical questions that were actually the heart of the matter (see Judges 14). “What is stronger than a lion?” they ask. Well, duh! Samson is… he just ripped one limb from limb.

I’ve been thinking about this interesting aspect of Philistine questions (that they seem to have a knack to ask profound questions that cut to the heart of the matter without realizing it and thinking they are merely making some rhetorical flourish), and I suddenly realized there as an another dimension to Goliath’s question.

Turning to Matthew 15:21-28, we have the following story:

And Jesus went away from there and withdrew to the district of Tyre and Sidon. And behold, a Canaanite woman from that region came out and was crying, “Have mercy on me, O Lord, Son of David; my daughter is severely oppressed by a demon.” But he did not answer her a word. And his disciples came and begged him, saying, “Send her away, for she is crying out after us.” He answered, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” But she came and knelt before him, saying, “Lord, help me.” And he answered, “It is not right to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs.” She said, “Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table.” Then Jesus answered her, “O woman, great is your faith! Be it done for you as you desire.” And her daughter was healed instantly.

In Jesus’ interaction with the Canaanite woman, the Canaanites were dogs, and it turns out there is a kind of dog that shames the sheep with her faith and pleases the master! The Philistines were not true Canaanites, but had settled in Canaan and seem to substitute for the Canaanites in opposition to Israel at the time of Goliath. By asking whether he was a dog, Goliath was not only hinting that he was the punch line in God’s joke on the Philistines, he was also hinting at the path of humility and faith open to the Canaanites (and the Philistines). The table laid out for God’s people had plenty of scraps if they would simply hunger for true food.

The wife of Manoah

Manoah’s wife, the mother of Samson, is never named (see Judges 13 primarily). Why? She is the center of the story. Even when Manoah prays and God hears him, the answer is to send the angel to his wife when he is not with her.

Please post insightful comments… I need this itch scratched.

July 13 update:

Madeleine asks some very pertinent questions in the comments, as well as raising some good points. I thought I would respond here to her question regarding the source of my curiousity, because my answer should have been part of the original post.

In the first part of Hebrews 7, the author makes a theological point about Jesus based on the fact that Melchizedek doesn’t have any geneological information in the text of Genesis 14. Why? Because any character of Melchizedek’s stature would have received a “son of” in the literature of Genesis unless the author purposefully excluded it. In other words, the exclusion of words from Genesis 14 undergirds a significant theological point in the New Testament.

Now Samson’s mother falls into two patterns (at least two, I should say) seen in the Bible: she has a barren womb that gives birth to a baby; and she gives birth to a permanent Nazerite. All the other women that follow these patterns (that I can think of) are named: Sarah, Rebekah, Rachel, Hannah, Elizabeth, Mary, and others.

So I am tentatively assuming that the author of Judges intentionally left out her name (i.e. he knew her name and purposefully did not use it), and that he did this in spite of the norm. And if he purposefully left out her name, I’m curious as to his purpose.

Samson and Goliath

I just wrapped up three weeks of teaching adult Sunday School on Samson, so I’ve been thinking about his interactions with the Philistines quite a bit (see Judges 13-16 to brush up on the stories). If you line up Samson’s time line with Samuel, it looks like Samson took down the Philistine temple, along with all five lords of the Philistines, a bit prior to battle of Mizpah when the 40 years of Philistine rule over the Israelites (see Judges 13:1) was ended.

Samson was a strong man and a terror to the Philistines. As they said of him once he was captured and blinded, “Our god has given our enemy into our hand, the ravager of our country, who has killed many of us.” After Mizpah, the Philistines show up a couple times with Saul and Jonathan before we quickly arrive at Goliath in 1 Samuel 17.

The whole David and Goliath story now seems to me to be a giant joke on the Philistines by God based on the setup of Samson… that it is a “laugh at your calamity” (see Proverbs 1:26) sort of moment. Think of it. For 20 years Samson had devastated the Philistines, and the men of Philistia could not stand against him. He was an Israelite strong man, and the Philistines had to seek help from a third party to deal with him. Now the Philistines bring forward their “Samson”, a strong man of outstanding proportion, and what happens? In his first encounter with the Israelites, a little shepherd boy kills him with a toy! What could have been more humiliating? Perhaps if a little Israelite girl had kicked him between the legs…

Goliath himself understood (sort of) that the God of Israel was treating him as a joke. “Am I a dog, that you come to me with sticks?” (see 1 Samuel 17:43) he asks rhetorically… only it turns out it wasn’t merely rhetorical, it was actually worth pondering, because the answer was a resounding “Yes!” This too parallels Samson, when the 30 companions answer his riddle with¬†rhetorical¬†questions that were actually the heart of the matter (see Judges 14). “What is stronger than a lion?” they ask. Well, duh! Samson is… he just ripped one limb from limb.

God’s enemies are not merely defeated, they are mocked. Perhaps this theme is lurking behind Colossians 2:15, when Christ does not merely defeat his enemies, he puts them to open shame.