log (2009/09/11 to 2009/09/17)

Derivatives Trading

"See here! I have some derivatives!"

"I suppose one could, with a degree of charity, call what you have there derivatives. But see! I have here some derivatives, of extremely high quality!"

"I think that my derivatives are clearly of higher quality than yours."

"Do not be ridiculous! See, for instance, as just one of many, this fine derivative here! See the value, the promise, the limited downside risk! And then see the derivatives that you have, none nearly so fine."

"No, no, I am not convinced. I am far from convinced! That derivative seem to me highly questionable. I would not invest significant funds in that derivative. But see this derivative that I have here! Would you not give a significant sum in order to own it?"

"This is a passable derivative, perhaps even above average. If you had a number of units of that derivative, I might propose an exchange for one unit of one of my own less valuable derivatives. This one here, say. Only because I am bored, and happen to be short of derivatives of that common, if passable, type."

"Why, heavens! I am nearly insulted by that offer! Do you realize what you propose? A plurality of units of this derivative, for but one unit of that? It is unthinkable!"

"Ah well, it was only a passing fancy. I would have been on the short end of the exchange, at any rate. Better we do not trade."

"Now, now. I also am bored, and a trade, even if an insignificant one, would liven up the day. Say I were to offer you, in exchange for a quantity of units of your really uninteresting derivative there, a like quantity of this derivative here, very fine but of a type with which I happen to be oversupplied, and in addition I would throw in twice that number of futures contracts, based on the value of the center tranche of a bundle of similar derivatives backed by the daily value of commoditized debt obligations involving partial interest on mortgages on a selection of properties scattered around the globe, hedged in turn by a debt-equity swap with a fine commercial bank in Abu Dabi, at a rate tied to the price of a short-sell contract on crude oil, f.o.b. Havana, Cuba?"

"You drive a hard bargain, my friend! But let it be done."

"Let it be done!"

Isn't that how you've always pictured it, too?

Although I left out anything about portraits of baseball players printed on the derivatives.

I am doing far too many things! And far too many things are happening!

Here is a partial list:

  • The season for going to college has started, and we have driven the little daughter down to college and helped her carry her possessions from the car up to her cozy little garret room in a dormitory. (Back in my day, sophomores did not get singles; apparently nowadays kids are pampered even more than back then.)
  • The season for orchestra things has also started, and I am sitting in my car, with a laptop but without an Internet connection, waiting for the little boy to be done with his orchestra thing rehearsal or whatever it is. (At first I took a small nap, which was lovely, and then it occurred to me I could write in my long-neglected weblog!)
  • The reason I am waiting for a considerable time for the little boy to emerge from whatever he is doing is that we have only one really functional car today, and the reason for that is that when we got home from dropping off the little daughter (using M's car), we found my car covered with wood chips and twigs, with a very large dead limb lying beside it in the driveway and, on closer inspection, a baseball-sized impact crater in the front windshield, with a very decorative network of shatter-cracks radiating out from it. Apparently the limb fell from a part of the tree quite some distance above the ground! (The Glass People are going to replace the windshield tomorrow, if all goes well.)
  • The Fall Combat Classic paintball tourney thing has occurred, sponsored by some cadets at our local United States Military Academy, apparently to raise funds for the United Military Academy cadet class, and I have driven to and from scenic Lake Frederick or something to pick the little boy and his friend up from it, along with the tent they slept in the night before, various duffles and backpacks and helmets and bandoliers and snack-food, and a quantity of mud. The United States Military Academy is in some really scenic country, up in the general vicinity of Hariman (Harriman?) Park.
  • The graphics card in the desktop (actually minitower) computer in the playroom suddenly stopped working, and on investigation it turned out that that computer requires AGP graphics cards, which are now so old that they are priced as antiques rather than electronics, and for only slightly more money we could get a whole new desktop (actually microtower) computer for the playroom, so we did that (and it cost so little that we got a better monitor while we were at it). The new computer is roughly a zillion times faster and more graphicy than the old one, and its hard drive is big enough that the data that was filling up the hard drive in the old one fits into one little corner of it. Which is always the way.
  • Having a new computer with better Chips and more Disk Space, I have been installing WoW and Second Life and Portal and The Sims 2 and two of its expansion packs, and so on and so on, on it. Sadly it came with only a trial version of the Microsoft Office Suite, and the little boy apparently needs and/or wants various Microsoft Office Applications for school, so we may have to pay Microsoft some (more) money.
  • The computer on which I'm typing this, a Lenovo T60p provided by The Employer, is in the extreme terminal stages of Windows Bit-Rot, and crashes at least half the time if I suspend it, unsuspend it, plug it into wall power, unplug it from wallpower, or look away from it for more than ten minutes. Also the near righthand corner of it seems to be slowly shredding, and is held more or less together with transparent tape. And the drive is getting full. I could beg for a new Employer-provided computer, but it would probably just be from Lenovo again, so instead I have ordered myself, as a birthday present, a nice-looking gaming laptop with 500GB of disk, a GeForce 160M graphic chipset, 4GB of memory, and some lovely fast CPU whose call-sign slips my mind at the moment; it is scheduled to arrive day after tomorrow, woot! And then I will spend hours installing things on that, both WoW and Second Life and Portal and that, and also work stuff because I intend to use it for work, too. I just hope it isn't too heavy.
  • And it's a birthday present because in a week and a couple of days it will be my birthday, and I will be halfway through my pre-Singularity approximate life expectancy, which is a rather daunting thought. Hurry up with immortality there, please, exponential curve of technology!
  • And I've been playing WoW (Spennix is sort of plateaud as a moderately well-geared 80 rogue doing like 1000 dps unbuffed, and I've been doing daily quests and some casual PvP), and Second Life (in the small amounts of time that life allows), and writing in the Second Life weblog much more often than in this one, and beta-testing Blue Mars (see aforementioned Second Life weblog), and making a nuisance of myself in the Blue Mars beta forums, and even playing The Sims 2 a little (just making sure it worked on the new playroom computer, of course, but it was fun to see Sally Raptor again!), and, and, and, and...
  • And at work we have Important Customer Reviews at the lab this week, and an Important Customer Visit some hours south next week, and in between I make slides and edit documents and and go to meetings, and once in a great while actually have time to do some programming or actually run some programs and do Science, but those things are so rare that they're really down in the noise, as we say.

And that's all that springs to mind at the moment. How's your life been? *8)

Sitting on an only slightly muddy rock, looking out over the fields and woods and Lake Frederick or something, listening to the explosions of pretend mortar shells, and watching with half an eye two strapping and somewhat muddy young men breaking camp while waiting to drive them home, I for some reason thought about being someone who walks through the woods professionally, maybe on some alternate Earth where towns are few and far between and the most direct route between them is sometimes a path through the encircling woods that only a person on foot can navigate, and coming down some evening or early morning out of the hills, to a place where carts are parked along a road, with brightly-colored awnings put up, and people talking and moving here and there, selling (rather than paintball equipment and cans of soda) cakes of soap, spices, fruits from the orchard and vegetables from the garden, homespun cloth, hand-printed books, hand-tooled leather, pretty pieces of glass.

And having maybe everything that I owned in a pack on my back and in my pockets, and having no particular income but knowing that the people in the towns would reliably provide food and shelter, because I usefully walk the hills, carrying urgent letters, perhaps, or confidential messages, or even just the mail.

I've been working on a story like that, on and off, in the back of my head, for quite a few years now, sometimes while actually hiking in the woods, sometimes when just sitting on a boulder, looking at the trees and the hills, relaxing.