“New” Bike for Abigail

Since Abigail has more than outgrown her first bike, given to her a few Christmases ago, we decided it was time for a larger one. I’d checked out what was available in a 20inch girl’s bicycle at Walmart and Target, but just last weekend came across a slightly used Trek Mystic on Craigslist for much less than most of the bikes at either of those “bargain” stores. Abigail and her Daddy went to check out the bike, and arrived home an hour later with her new wheels! Perhaps most exciting, Abigail paid for a third of this “new” bike with her own saved money. She and Jay spent a little time giving the bike a tune-up, and then Abigail got to pose for a picture (though the chain guard is still removed for fixing). I think she is going to like cruisin’ along on her cool Trek!!


Tarzan v1.0

A little over a year ago, I began using Collective2 as one of the tools in my toolbox to develop a trading system. It took some time, but I gradually developed a solid track record and was ultimately listed with the top 20 or 30 systems available. This past February, however, I stopped supporting my system for two reasons: 1) I began trading it myself in earnest and started feeling more secretive; and 2) nobody was subscribing to it anyways.

At the time, I was flummoxed as to why nobody would subscribe to my system. The other top performing systems had many subscribers, with some of them pulling in over $10k a month in subscription fees. So what was wrong with mine? I now believe it is because the style of trading to which I am attracted looks stupid to others. I opened positions at market open and closed them at market close. I wasn’t twitchy enough for day traders and I broke every rule of the swing traders by closing out positions “prematurely” and had way too many trades. I got lots of questions like, “Where are the stop losses” and I’d answer that I didn’t use them because I couldn’t prove they added value… but that’s not what folks wanted to hear.

I’ve continued to work on my system and utilize it for myself. There’s been some ups and downs, but that’s not really what this post is about. I’ve missed Collective2, as it was one of the only public forums I had with my trading, and I found the interaction enjoyable. So I recently decided to give it another go by giving myself a very challenging (for me) goal. I didn’t focus on maximizing returns as I had with my previous system. Rather, I tried to design a system around a few key principles that I thought would make people happy.

Oddly enough, most traders (as far as I can tell… and numerous books agree with this observation) tend to focus on what makes them happy in the activity of trading rather than on making money. So I designed a system with the swing trader in mind:

1) All trades entered in the evening. Enter and exit positions on market open. Allows the system to be traded by those working full-time jobs.

2) Minimize the total number of trades while also minimizing the risk. I thought seven positions (both long and short) held at a time struck the right balance.

3) In general, let the profits run and cut the losses short.

4) Trades average 2 to 10 days. Here I was trying to meet the expectations of the trader looking for a bit of excitement without offending their sensibilities by dipping into the day-trader playbook.

Anyway, version 1 of Tarzan is now up and running. I still need to bring the max drawdown lower (it hits a 30% drawdown during 2002 in my backtesting), but I wanted to start developing a track record with it so I went ahead and put it on C2. As I alluded to above, classic swing systems are very difficult for me, so this was quite an achievement… or it will be, if it works. We shall see.

First Day of School

It has finally come: the end of summer, the beginning of a schedule, the return to early morning wake-ups, backpacks and homework, and the excitement of a new year of learning in front of us. While I am hesitant to say goodbye to summer, my two little students are ready to go, and happy about being off to school.


Jonathan will be at school every day of the week for first grade, a substantial increase from two days a week last year (though he will still enjoy short Mondays and Fridays), and is thrilled beyond measure to be under the tutelage of the same teacher Abigail had in the first grade. Of course, Jonathan thinks every year that he will have whichever teacher Abigail previously had, which is hardly a given with three or four classes in each grade. But so far we are two for two, and he thinks that is just the way it ought to be! There are only eleven students in his classroom, which feels very cozy, as well as very conducive to learning. Here is a pic with him and his teacher, as well as one with a couple of his school chums:



Third grade feels like a pretty big year too: Abigail and her eleven classmates were sort of shy and quiet (highly unusual for this group!) as they got out their very large binders, tab dividers, composition books, and looseleaf paper. As a third grader, Abigail will begin studying Latin, as well as staying for full days, every day for the first time in her school career. Mommy is a little sad over this development (the longer days, not the Latin!), but knows Abigail is in good hands and among sweet friends. We didn’t get a teacher picture today, but a friend took a shot of Abigail and I:


As we do at the start of every academic year, the entire family attended all-school opening chapel for what promises to be the last time in our rented synagogue facility…ground has been broken on the new campus, and we look forward to the entire K-12 school relocating there within the year. How exciting! We continue to be so grateful for this community of families whom we love, and for faculty who are nurturing and teaching our little ones with grace and excellence.

And now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to go and oversee my first grader as he unpacks his Spiderman backpack and attends to his first afternoon of homework!



For those of you using WordPress, you are probably as grateful as I am for Akismet, a terrific comment spam filter built into the application. Most comment spam just gets swept away, with only a very few being sent up for moderation due to some trouble detecting the true nature of the comment.

Now here is the bizarro-world hole in Akismet that I have discovered these past few months. Probably 99% of the comment spam that got passed along for moderation instead of being automatically removed by Akismet involved one post: Nicolas versus the f**tbo**d. I finally got sick of it and turned off comments on that post.

And where did the comment spam immediately begin slipping through again? You guessed it: New H**dbo**d for Abigail’s Bed. What the heck?!? I get comment spam all over the site, but somehow entries with a f**tbo**d or h**dbo**d just slip right through. I’m shutting down the comments on the h**dbo**d post as well, a simple enough solution, but this is just weird.

Now you know why I used ** throughout this post. Didn’t want to offer the comment spam another hole in Akismet.

In Which I Ramble on about Death and Nature…

My daughter is much braver than I am. And much more comfortable with nature. She declares that some day she will own hundreds of animals and live on a ranch or a farm, or somewhere “out in nature”. Now I love nature too…as long as it is not biting me, smelling yucky, or giving me a rash of some kind. But I do not think I want to live in it. Though I will someday gladly visit my favorite girl out in her spot of nature, wherever that may be.

This afternoon while fulfilling her chore of walking the dog out back to let him do “his business” Abigail spotted something in the driveway: something that looked an awful lot like a dead squirrel to her. Our girl is an animal lover extraordinaire, so instead of being disgusted by such a sight, she immediately felt compassion for this poor probably-not-alive creature. And sought to be certain it was actually dead before disposing of it respectfully. To which end she evidently felt she should touch its non-moving whiskers, just to be sure. And when the squirrel did not respond to this, she ascertained it was indeed, most sadly, quite dead, and should be given a proper burial.

Then, using good judgement, she decided that before she picked it up with the scooper for “doggy business” (another one of her chores) she should check with her Dad. So..she came in and casually asked him if it was ok for her to scoop up aforementioned dead squirrel to which he quickly responded in the negative. I guess he thought that wasn’t appropriate, so he did it for her. Which was really nice of him and all.

But how appropriate and/or nice do you suppose it was for him to then bring the expired animal into my kitchen where I was preparing supper just so he could show it to me?

My Day Planner

Given my life is about to become a whole lot busier with the start of school and all the activities and appointments that go along with that, I have broken down and purchased a MomAgenda planner. I eyed these last year, and ended up passing them by with a little sigh, but with a little more spending money in my monthly budget!  Now that I have ongoing “school” commitments for three out of four children, (I am involved with a small preschool co-op for Nicolas this year), and have a host of little people’s schedules to maintain as well as my own, I think it will be an invaluable tool.

MomAgenda is a dayplanner designed especially for busy mommies: not only are there spaces to plan out and track your activities for each day, but additional sections for each of up to four children’s schedules (tailor-made for our family!). It allows you to view the family’s week all together, at a glance. There are differently-sized planners available depending on your needs/wants. While online and virtual shopping for my planner, I was pleased to see that MomAgenda has some new features:

* A less expensive version covered in a durable, patterned plastic cover instead of the more expensive silk shantung – the plastic covered planner is half the price of the silk.

* Free printables on the MomAgenda site for you to try out the planner pages and see if they work for you.

One more note: the prices on the website are slightly higher than the places I visited here in Dallas. Check out their store listings before buying online if you have a place near to you that carries the MomAgendas.


That, my dear readers, is the sound of Jay and I cheering for Aunt Sandra, who this evening, after a long day of work, welcomed our four lively children into her apartment and watched over them for two hours so Jay and I could go out on our first date in over four months. In fact, we are so tickled that it bears repeating…”HOORAY!!”

We took advantage of Dallas’ Restaurant Week to dine at Hector’s on Henderson– a restaurant written up as having “the warmest welcome in town” ……and within a few moments of being seated, met Hector himself. He is a most gracious host who obviously takes a keen interest in attention to detail in all aspects of his restaurant’s business. In the two hours we dined, we saw him greet and visit with numerous guests, oversee the meticulous setting of tables, serve patrons, bus tables with his employees, and all with a smile. If there is one thing Hector’s does right, it is service. Everyone we encountered went out of their way to see to our enjoyment of the evening, and enjoy it we did. From the beautiful classical guitar music played by yet another personable fellow who also visited us at our table, to the delicious and “fun” menu items such as”Fried Green Tomatoes”, “Lamb Chop Lollipops”, and ” Candied Apple Creme Brulee”. This is definitely an upscale restaurant with a relaxed and casual feel. Where the folks in charge make the guests feel like they are welcomed friends come to dine for the evening. Even during Restaurant Week, which can be quite chaotic at many eateries around town.

Yes, this was a great night. So fun for us parents of four to do something out of the ordinary (for us). If you have a little time and are looking for some great food, wonderful live music to dine by, and the friendliest restaurant folk in town, head on over to Hector’s…

And by the way, Sandra……thanks again!