Saturday, December 20, 2008

SHOwtime is where it's at

As some of you already know, I've taken a break from the trading and the betting recently. I plan to resume trading in '09, but in the meantime I've enjoyed the downtime. One of the things I've been able to do is catch up on missed TV. Knowing that I can access them on-demand, I waited until the whole season to finish before I finally sat down to watch Dexter and Californication. SHOwtime has really replaced HBO as the channel that you really need to pay for and get. There's no more "The Wire" (the complete set is selling on amazon for only about $170), no more "Sex and the City", no more "The Sopranos", and this season's "Entourage" was not good at all. SHOwtime on the other hand, has "Dexter", "Californication", "Weeds", "Inside the NFL" and much more. I really enjoyed this past season of Dexter and Californication, and strongly recommend them to everyone. Both shows also happen to be my favorite type of show, a drama with a healthy dose of comic relief (like House), that has a plot but is mostly about the characters (like House), without going overboard (like the final season of Boston Legal which became just way too silly).

Dexter was also the only show that my old roommate Lena and I watched together, as she was more artsy and has sinced moved to the UK. Can't believe that was only 2 years ago. I feel like I've been in NYC forever but it's only coming up on 3 years.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Boston Market and donating food?

As I went into Boston Market to get some food for my diet (details, posts, and photos later), I noticed that they were still running the $2 whole rotisserie chicken promo (with purchase of family meal). $2 for a whole chicken is a ridiculous deal. But since I'm on a diet I didn't need the extra food. What I really want to do is to be able to buy that chicken for $2 and then donate it. Now, I don't know how much Boston Market makes on a $2 chicken, but I assume that even with really tiny margins it is profitable for them to sell that chicken. So why not give the customers an opportunity to donate that chicken? I'm sure if you arrange it with some soup kitchen/homeless shelter type place there are going to be willing volunteers who would come during off-peak or closing hours to pick up the food. Boston Market would still make money on the chicken (and the meal), and would receive good press for charity work. They would only have to do this during the holiday season. My guess is there's something in the corporate charter or in the law that prevents them from doing this, but it makes sense to me as being beneficial all around.

HKIR Recap (Horseracing)

Another year has passed and the Hong Kong International Races have come and gone. Just a few thoughts on the results.

The Vase
Another close second for Purple Moon while Doctor Dino repeats as the Vase winner. Jaguar Mail ran pretty well and he should improve considerably from having had Kinane ride him hard in a race at this level. Packing Winner got the run of the race up front but considering how he was not anywhere near his peak he will prove to be very dangerous to Viva Pataca in the Champions and Chater again later this season.

The Sprint

While this didn't turn out to be the race of the century I was hoping for, the appearances of Apache Cat and Marchand D'or validated this race as a true global Group 1 sprint. Inspiration, the lowest rated horse in the race, came out of nowhere to take the race as a big underdog. This horse had only won a domestic class 2 earlier in the year and I don't think anyone could have predicted this victory. My pick for the race had been Green Birdie (because a quality miler coming back in distance will usually still beat a quality sprinter), who came through with a solid second placing. Apache Cat's run was hard to decipher because it looked like he ran out of gas but then picked up again towards the finish. Another hometown quinella and while Inspiration won't be crowned world's top sprinter any time soon, Hong Kong's dominance in this event has been quite amazing.

The Mile

A dominant performance by Good Ba Ba with Soumillon running a hell of a race. Knowing Good Ba Ba's tendency to ease up in the lead, he saved him till very late for one huge spurt and got clear separation from the pack in course record time. Again showing Asia's milers as being superior to those in the Western hemisphere, I'm curious how Good Ba Ba will be rated on this performance. Kip Deville did not run up to par as he clearly had trouble negotiating the right-handed turn. I wouldn't be surprised if they ranked Good Ba Ba slightly behind Goldikova, but both have an amazing turn of foot and I personally wouldn't be able to separate the two right now.

The Cup

Mike de Kock does it again, this time with Eagle Mountain. A great ride by Kevin Shea to get in front and put a bit of separation between his horse and the pack. Viva Pataca was completely blocked for a run but at this point how many more excuses can you make for the horse? Just can't seem to win the big one (best win was QEII in '07) against a true overseas field. John Moore has always given me the impression that the one thing he's really wanted to do is to take a Hong Kong horse and win the Cox Plate, but until he delivers a true global G1 win I'm not sure Stanley Ho will let him take the horse over there.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

The cost of food

Since I do not hide my love of food, I am often asked why I don't cook for myself. My answer is that it oftens costs more to cook, not even including the implied cost of my time. For the really expensive meals, I'm not going to be able to reproduce the quality of food at home, so I have no hesitations about paying the price. For the cheap everyday meals, here's an example of why I don't cook:

This large bowl of chinese vegetables costs $2.50 from Rice-n-Tea at the Winmark Supermarket on Queens Boulevard (around 80th street). This includes the picking, cleaning, and cooking. How can someone beat that price cooking at home? People usually go to Rice-n-Tea for the 3 choices +rice+soup combo ($4.75, great deal) but I go there to pick up individual dishes as well because they're cheap and probably the best tasting of the combo meal places.

On a related note, there are things that I try my best not to order when I'm at a restaurant because it's more cost-efficient to attempt to reproduce at home. Any grilled or poached fish for example, because I don't need to pay $20 for a $5 piece of fish I can buy from the supermarket. I will frequently order sandwiches however, because they don't sell bread by the slice and I don't have a family of 5 to feed with a loaf of bread.

During a recent birthday dinner for a friend, I was in a conversation where I said that I only eat cheap sushi or expensive sushi. At first people are often appalled that I eat "cheap" sushi, but then I start to provide my reasoning. "Relatively inexpensive" sushi is often no better than "cheap" sushi. The neighborhood Japanese place, often owned and operated by Chinese or Korean people, get their prices from the built-in premium for Japanese food in America. However, a place that is designed to produce and sell larger quantities of sushi at discount prices will often have fresher fish because of the higher turnover. The best example is Chiyoda in midtown (41st street between 5th and Madison Aves). They sell large amounts of Japanese food at reasonable prices for that area. But the sign of a true Japanese company is that after 4pm, they discount the prices of items intended for the lunch rush, by up to 30%. This is the way it should be. In Japan, a supermarket will sell sushi/sashimi, and discount the product 3-4 times over the course of the day. Your "cheap" sushi will only be several hours less fresh than someone else's sushi, but at least you know that they don't keep the product overnight. I'm not sure you can say that about the fish you pay for at that "relatively inexpensive" neighborhood Japanese place.

I think that this concept is also one of the reasons why Walmart is so dominant while almost every other retailer in America sucks (animal) (appendage). It's about reducing excess inventory. Too many places hold inventory for too long until the depreciation really starts eating into the margins. There are numerous (holiday) sales throughout the year, but Walmart is the only one that understands that everyday low prices means things going out the store every day.

Back to the topic of the cost of food, there'd been talk at work about inflation possibilities in the near future and how hard it is to understand the huge drop in food prices over the recent months. My theory is that of the recent months and even in the near future, the shift is not one of total demand but rather the distribution of demand. Economists like to talk in real terms. But for this case, I believe it is correct to look at the nominal numbers. If developing nations used to spending $2/day on food are now spending $4/day on food, that seems like a huge increase. But in comparison, the developed nations are spending $15/day on food and throwing away $5 of it (all numbers are hypothetical). So now with the economic crisis, these developed nations are spending $10/day on food and eating the whole $10 worth. So while it seems like inflation is inevitable as developing countries are spending more and more on food, I think in the near term, the numbers still even out and aren't as drastic as some people think.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Calling a top and a bottom

Because I have to.

Calling a bottom to the hemmoraging of money I'm doing going in to trade every day. After having lost almost 50% of my year since Nov 1, I'm giving it two more days. If I don't see any improvement, I'm calling it a (unsuccessful) year. There's got to be more flow and speculators back into the market in January. Right now it's just orders coming in through programs, everyone backs away, and with no speculators to fight with, it's just too easy to get caught in the current with noone pushing back.

Calling a top to my weight. As I approach 250lbs, a cholesterol level of 200 and BP of 145/90 while on medication, I realize I've got to put a stop to this. This will include diet, exercise, and a supplement or two. The Chinese detox pills are going to suck cause they're going to make me go to the bathroom like 5 times a day, but at this point, I don't really have any other choices. What I really need is a muse. Even though I had no shot with her, Jesse got me to go to the gym. Now she won't even take my calls or IMs. I need some inspiration.

O Ya in Boston

O Ya is famous for being named Frank Bruni's #1 most intriguing new restaurant outside of New York:

It is also very expensive, especially by Boston standards (I spent about $230 on just food costs, although I ate about 1.5 people's worth) and I doubt you can really get out of there for less than $130.

The menu is extensive, focusing mostly on their versions of sushi (two pieces per order) and sashimi (three pieces per order), but also features cooked foods like kurobuta pork, wagyu beef, poulet rouge chicken, and other goodies. The tasting menu consists of one piece each of 15 different items on the menu, but I chose to order a la carte. I will list everything in as close an order as I can remember to being served the dishes.

Shima Aji and Uni with ceviche vinaigrette and cilantro (sashimi)

The ceviche style clearly comes through with a heavy citrus flavor and a little kick. Nice start to the meal and a good mix of textures and flavors, although the uni was noticeable but not as strong as bursting with freshness as I would have liked.

Hamachi belly with yuzu soy marinated sea urchin (sushi)

I love hamachi belly but neither ingredient seemed to stand out like I'm used to. I was hoping for the strong uni and hamachi flavors to clash and create fireworks but it was disappointingly bland for what it was.

Wild bluefin toro 2 ways: spicy mentaiko mayo and republic of georgia herb sauce (sushi)

My waiter recommended the one with the herb sauce but I ended up asking him for one piece of each combined into one order. He was right. The mayo didn't really do anything for the fish but the earthy herb sauce had such great presence on top of the fatty fish.

Fried Kumamoto Oyster with yuzu kosho aioli, squid ink bubbles (sushi)

A tasty mixture of flavors and textures, with a nice touch provided by the squid ink. However, this was my first inkling that their sushi rice is not top notch.

Kin Medai with white soy ginger, myoga, lemon oil (sashimi)

The lemon oil is too strong and comes out first.

Chilled Homemade Soba Noodles with Santa Barbara sea urchin, nori, fresh wasabi, and scallions

This was nice and tasty but nothing special and certainly not something I needed to taste here at these prices for such a small portion. The noodles seemed a little thinner than normal soba noodles, but did have flavor and bite.

Yuzu Brined Ballotine of Chicken Wing with napa cabbage and shiitake stuffing, and homemade kimchee

This sounded wonderful but they must have put too much of the toasted sesame seeds since that was mostly what I tasted. I couldn't decipher all the other flavors that went into it and this turned into an unfortunately expensive piece of sesame chicken.

Silken Tofu Tempura with wild hedgehog mushrooms and shoyu broth

This dish was unfortunate for my wallet. It was in the truffle and eggs portion of the menu despite not having any truffles or eggs. It used to have truffles but they removed it from the dish but didn't reduce the price. An unfortunately expensive piece of agedashi tofu (not really, as you can taste the tempura batter, but you get the idea). The shoyu broth was nice although too sweet to just drink up. So I ordered a side of rice (they only had sushi rice) to go with it. A closer inspection of the sushi rice in this manner did lead me to believe that it was not top notch, and had a tendency to mush more than say the rice at Yasuda's. However, the vinegary rice with the sweet shoyu broth turned into a very interesting and tasty mix.

Hamachi with viet mignonette, thai basil, and shallots

At this point I asked the waiter what dish would the chef absolutely say that I must have before leaving. This was the chosen dish and my waiter was right yet again. Just a perfect mix of textures and flavors. It really felt like 3(flavors)x3(textures)=9 different things going on in my mouth.

Grilled Sashimi of Chanterelle and Shiitake Mushrooms with rosemary garlic oil, sesame froth, homemade soy, and sesame brittle

This was a very satisfying dish that certainly seemed to get the most out of its ingredients. I think I would have preferred it if it was served hotter. While I liked this dish, it was not my favorite as opposed to Bruni.

Foie Gras with balsamic chocolate kabayaki, raisin cocoa pulp, and a sip of aged sake (sushi)

This was wonderful and a great way to end the night. The foie melted in my mouth and the sip of sake went wonderfully with it. I thought it was interesting that this was served as sushi and not sashimi, but it worked.

The place itself is in a little nook and my cabdriver hadn't even heard of the street that it's on. The door is also not immediately noticeable from the outside. Once inside, it's mostly dark except for lighting right above the sushi bar and the light from the kitchen, as the kitchen door is pretty much kept open all night. While there weren't many diners and the place isn't big, most people came in groups and it was a chatty atmosphere. I sat at the counter which was lined with stools. I recommended to the chef/owner afterwards that he needs to change them and hopefully he will listen. When you want your customers to sit for more than an hour enjoying food, you need to offer them back support. There was a nice waft of truffle throughout the night. After it was all over, I went back outside, walked about half a block, and realized I was standing right in front of the South Station bus terminal. Right in front of where I've taken many many Greyhound and LuckyStar buses (I do not use Fung Wah) back to NYC. I had no idea the restaurant was right there. I will definitely be back with a better idea of what to order (they had a slab of bluefin otoro that looked amazing).

Early meal and late meal

I am not a big fan of brunch even when I do manage to wake up early on a weekend. Anyone who's read Anthony Bourdain's Kitchen Confidential knows that he does not like that meal either. Also, you know if you're going to any good restaurant you're getting the B-squad if you're lucky in terms of people in the kitchen.

However, I had already played a full session of bridge on Saturday and when the break came shortly after 1pm, I just wanted some food. I went to Brasserie Jo's, a nice place in the Colonnade Hotel (which I think also has rental residences now) that I was introduced to at the last Boston nationals (9 years ago!!!) It's a great place and is exactly what a brasserie should be. Relaxed and with big portions. I ordered the pate maison and a croque madame with mushrooms. The portions were huge (I probably ordered plenty for two normal people) and as artery clogging as you would expect. I've never been big on sweet carbs (pancakes, waffles, etc.) so I would definitely recommend this place as a good brunch spot in Boston.

Since my stay on Sunday was a last minute thing, I had no dinner plans for Sunday night. I decided to catch the second half of the Sunday night football game at the Beantown pub, about a block or so away from my hotel. The place is nice with decent food and a huge spot in the back with about 6 pool tables. What I didn't understand was that this place didn't do takeout or delivery. The place was within walking distance to at least two expensive hotels and I'm sure they'd have plenty of business from people who didn't want to order room service.

Two dinners at Craigie on Main

While up in Boston I managed to go twice to Craigie on Main in Central Square for two excellent meals. Craigie on Main used to be the Craigie Street Bistrot and only recently moved to the much bigger space on Main Street. In fact, they had only been open a week when my friend and I went there on Wednesday. We both had the 10 course tasting menu, and I went back by myself on Friday to try eating at the bar. They change their menu every day (not dramatically day to day I think) and so I will just describe the dishes that I remember I really liked.

House-cured Greek Sardines with Banyuls reduction and fennel salad

I love sardines and actually had this both nights. I actually think the tasting menu portion was just right and the regular appetizer portion was too much. A great way to start a meal.

Salad of House-Smoked Sablefish with local beets, potatoes, mizuna, and a dijon-miso vinaigrette

I absolutely love smoked sablefish and am ashamed to say that I only discovered it about a couple of years ago and still haven't tried any from the famed New York Jewish places. This was a wonderful dish with delicate flavors and a great contrast in textures. I'm not a beets fan in general but this really worked.

Tahini-marinated dayboat sea scallop with wellfleet and razor clams, whelks, barley cous cous, green olive puree

A perfectly cooked scallop (one in the tasting, I saw someone order it as a main and had 3 scallops) but what really makes the dish is the bed of clams, whelks, and barley cous cous that it rested on. Great combination of earth and sea that I really enjoyed.

Red Chile and Sesame marinated Kampachi Kama (collar)

This was a double wow dish. Just ridiculously tasty. The description is pretty much self-explanatory.

Fricasee of Country sausage, duck tongue confit, and cocks' combs with farm fresh egg, fresh mushrooms, and celery root puree

What part of that doesn't sound wonderful? I love it when there is an egg dish on a tasting menu and I have yet to be disappointed with one. Everything tasted great separately and was even better when mixed together with the broken egg yolk over it all.

Lamb 3 ways

I had this as an entree when I went to sit at the bar. I can't recall the specifics, but there was meat (either breast or loin), belly, and tongue. Superb. And the pieces weren't precut into small chunks like at some restaurants, and I rarely see lamb belly on a western menu. Makes me have a craving for Chinese style lamb belly (brisket) hot pot.

Other dishes were pretty good in general. When I sat at the bar, there was a guy raving about the burger, and saying that he'd eaten all the fancy-pants burgers in NYC and this was better. I'm not sure about a grass-fed burger, but I do know that I went to Irving Mill a couple of days ago to try their burger and it was indeed as wonderful as all the hype on serious eats and from Bruni.

There is a big open kitchen in the middle of the new restaurant, including a small bar area with 3-4 seats with a frontrow view of the action. To specifically request those seats, you ask to be ringside when making your reservation. It seemed to be a pretty efficient kitchen as the place was getting full, with head chef Tony Maws barking and expediting and a separate guy in charge of wiping the plates as they go out. He did not seem as friendly to me as other chefs I've encountered, but that could have been the pressure from the new venture.

Week in Boston

Was away up in Boston during the week of Thanksgiving. This coincided with the Fall North American Bridge Championships (referred to as nationals) and so I got to see a lot of old friends from bridge as well. I got two invites for Thanksgiving dinner but decided to just hide out in my hotel room eating Chinese food all day (my hotel was walking distance to chinatown).

My hotel was nice. Booking through hotwire, I ended up with a standard room at the Boston Omni Parker, which was literally two blocks away from the Boston trading office. I never knew that highly rated hotel chains had rooms for one, but that's what I got. The maximum bed size in the room was a double bed, but other than that, everything was fine and there was room for a desk, chair, and an armchair. As it began to rain on Sunday, I decided to avoid the other holiday commuters and stay an extra night on Sunday. Again I booked through hotwire, which doesn't give you the hotel name, but I figured out the hotel and didn't even have to move to another room for my extra day.

I didn't play much bridge, deciding that if I played the main events my trip would be hectic and rushed. That was probably a good thing, since I didn't really play well and on Friday played the worst single day of bridge I can remember in over 5 years. I was in and out of it the whole entire day. I would be fully concentrated for 8 tricks, and then completely lose my mind at trick 9. A while back I remember joking to my friend that I might have ADHD, and he said that was unlikely since I could play 2 to 3 sessions of solid bridge in a day for a few days at a time. My experience Friday makes me wonder about that all over.

Since bridge was not the main reason I went up to Boston, I managed to have a nice and relaxing time anyway. I ate at a couple great places and I should be posting about them shortly.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Water cooler talk

I will be going to Boston next week for the fall bridge national championships. Still looking for someone to take me in for thanksgiving dinner if I get eliminated in the blue ribbon pairs event. Anyway, here are some interesting tidbits discussed while hanging around the office the last few days. These thoughts and opinions on the current economic situation come from a number of different opiners.

1. On the CDS market, a coworker says, "So it's kinda like I can buy fire insurance on someone else's house, then set it on fire and collect all the insurance money."

2. After reading online that Platinum Grove Asset Management froze its largest fund, I'm beginning to wonder at what point should they just take back Myron Scholes' nobel prize? "Nono, stop saying you're a nobel winner to get backers so you can blow up another hedge fund."

3. There is speculation that the huge drop in oil (and other commodities) was sparked by China basically deciding it did not want to pay those obscene prices and started buying up certain currencies to force the unwinding of all the carry trades.

4. While there is now talk of deflation, one coworker strongly believes what Jim Rogers describes as an "inflationary holocaust" will come into being soon enough. I think I was one of those people who originally agreed that Bernanke was going to lead us into stagflation. I still blame the severity of the current situation going foward on Greenspan and his handing out of money, "believing that banks would protect shareholders' interests first".

5. A few of us believe that continuing overleveraged bets and the many instruments that facilitate these bets are a big reason for the consistently high volatility and the selling strength seen at each new low. There are more and more stories every day of executives liquidating to meet margin calls. As if the SKF wasn't crazy enough, there is now the FAZ, one of a group of 8 new TRIPLE-leveraged ETFs from Direxion. It used to be that all manner of derivative bets were side bets. Now, they've all become the main bets. One huge bid in one of these short-oriented leveraged ETFs is enough to send 200 programs chasing over each other to hit the bid in the corresponding stocks. It's hard to analyze which stock you want to short, then borrow it, then manage the risk. But now, with a touch of a button, you can get short the equivalent of 100 stocks without any of the hassle. Who's going to still trade actual stocks?

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Dinner at Esca

Since I'm hemorrhaging money every time I go into the office to trade, I might as well spend some in an enjoyable manner. So this past Friday, I decided to try out Esca. Esca is not a very big restaurant, and the named chef, David Pasternak, is in the kitchen most nights. From most online accounts, he seems obsessed with freshness, and many chefs speak very highly of him. The restaurant specializes in seafood, especially crudo, an Italian style raw fish dish.

The place did not really exude a date place type of atmosphere. The bar is small and kinda just thrown in there, with about 6 seats (but they have Hangar One vodka!!). The restaurant is located right off the theater district, and as expected most of the diners there when I went at 5:30pm were of the pre-theater crowd. The kitchen is remarkably efficient given the space, keeping things up at a good pace for the people who have to make their shows and slowing things down for people like me who were there to enjoy the food. The waitress mentioned that most solo diners like me who came for the food tended to come from within the restaurant industry.

Ok, let's get to the food. The basic tasting menu is $75 and includes one sample of the crudo. For a $25 supplement, 5 additional samples of crudo were provided. A spanish mackerel bruschetta with cannelloni beans was provided for each diner to start.

The 6 crudo were:
(I think Belon) Oyster
Mediterranean snapper
Fluke with black radish
Horse mackerel with a dried tomato sliver
Razor clam with scallions and peppers
Sea urchin with caponata oil in its own shell

Most of them were simply dressed with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Simple and definitely fresh flavors. I was disappointed with the razor clam that seemed too covered with other stuff and the piece was too small to really get much flavor. The portion of sea urchin was also small.

Next was the Spaghetti Neri. This is on the regular menu. House made squid ink spaghetti with cuttlefish, green chilis and scallion. While there wasn't much in the way of extras (cuttlefish piece) the flavor was fantastic. It's easy to make a sea urchin pasta taste good because of its creaminess, but not all chefs can make a squid ink pasta that manages to really get the taste through. This was very very tasty.

Next was the Squalo alla Siciliana. Sicilian style mako shark. The preparation that I had seemed different than the version described on the regular menu. It was lightly breaded and cooked medium with some leeks and spinach. Great nutty taste and texture. I was very impressed by this dish.

The final fish course was a local wild striped bass with mushrooms and something else. The fish was cooked as best can be for a pretty thick cut of that type of fish with the fish skin perfectly crispy. However, there was nothing here that wowed me.

Next was a simple cheese course. I've been getting lucky with cheese courses it seems because this was really tasty yet simple. Buffalo ricotta with a slight drizzling of honey. The cheese was creamy without being heavy and the honey gave it that slight sweet and nutty flavor that just matched perfectly.

The dessert was an affogato di gelato. A vanilla gelato with some mascarpone cheese on top with a shot of espresso thrown in. A tasty typical italian dessert.

Overall the meal was great, the portions were just right, although I strongly suggest getting the crudo supplement if you choose the tasting menu. I will definitely be back.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Why do Americans love baseball?

This is a question I get a lot actually. Because if you bring people who didn't grow up watching baseball to a game, their first impression is usually, "this is boring". And that's because it is boring. So why do Americans love it so much? Besides the simple reason that it has history and culture on its side (that you grow up learning to watch and play baseball), I'm going to include here a phenomenon I've noticed (again it's a generalization, comments welcome) that might shed some light on this question.

The thing that I've noticed is that if I rank American sports based on popularity (not including nascar), it'd go something like this (again feel free to disagree):

1/2 Baseball
1/2 Football
3 Basketball
4 Golf
5 Ice hockey/Soccer
6 Tennis

Now, I'm going to throw out golf and hockey and focus on the team sports. My theory is that Americans prefer discreteness in their sports compared to continuousness (yes this is a word, I looked it up). Ice hockey and soccer are the most continuous of the sports on that list. The clock doesn't ever really stop in soccer while substitutions are made continuously in hockey. Basketball has a continuous flow back and forth, but each possession is limited by the shot clock. Football is separated into every down of every drive of every possession. Each point in the game can be modeled by time, down, position on field, score, etc. to determine the next course of action. Then there's baseball, where every pitch of every at-bat of every inning is separate, and baseball is the most individual of the team sports.

This leads to my belief that Americans love the game of baseball and not the sport of baseball. There is usually more athletic ability on display in the more continous sports, and those tend to be more popular around the world (rugby, soccer, hockey, basketball, etc.). But baseball (and American football) offers more climactic moments for a fan because of the discreteness of plays. For example, there's a lot of buildup and cheering when a football team is trying to complete a crucial 3rd down. But nothing beats standing up and cheering on as the batter has two strikes on him with men on base and two outs with the pitcher looking to get out of the inning. And when the ball is fouled off, we get to sit down then stand back up and do it all over again. So my belief is that there are more dramatic situations in baseball and that's a large part of its popularity.

Another thing to look at from the discreteness of plays is the buildup of the score. In basketball, soccer, and hockey, a goal is a goal. There may have been a complicated process (pick and roll, passes, set play designs, faceoffs, etc.), but most will just remember the shot that scored the goal. While that also happens in football and baseball (one big play or a home run), there's also the 13 play drive in football or the bunt/stolen base/infield hit scenarios in baseball that build up to that score and make it seem more exciting.

So yes, to me, baseball is a boring sport and I rarely watch a regular season game even if I have a monetary interest in it. But I love watching the big games in late September and October when there's just so much drama built up into it.

Dinner at Corton

With a review like this on Bloomberg including lots of name-dropping:

how could I not venture a taste?

The reviews on the web and among the food blogs have generally been very good for Corton, which only opened a little over a month ago. I usually believe in going to a new restaurant about 3-4 months in - after many of the kinks have been worked out, but before the named chef decides to leave. But this being a Drew Nieporent establishment (he's responsible for the way too many Nobus in NYC), it's already in great shape. In fact, he was there seating guests when I arrived for an early Friday sitting (6pm reservation for 1, easy to get the night before).

The atmosphere is wonderful. Simple black and white colors, comfortable sitting, and enough light to see everything clearly, while not too much that it would take away from a date ambiance.

I went with the 8 course tasting menu (actually 7 plus amuse) for $110. I will try my best to list the dishes and its components, but there were many parts to each dish so I could easily leave out some stuff.

Amuse of oyster in a gelee of it's own juices. Simple, clear flavor of oyster. This, however, would be very different from the rest of the meal, in which many flavors were used in each dish.

Santa Barbara uni in a konbu gelee with a cauliflower creme. Delicious starter with the slight bitterness of konbu working very well with the sweet uni. I would have preferred a crunch in this dish to go with the jelly and creamy textures, but overall very nice.

Braised octopus with burgundy truffle slices, in a potato consomme, with apple cider jelly cubes and a squid ink brioche tuile. The octopus was perfect and the broth was nice. Again the apple cider and tuile provided a wider range of flavor with some hints of sweetness and slight bitterness. I found them unnecessary.

Turbot in a spiced almond crust over an herb puree with a coconut citrus jus. Accompanied by squash puree, black garlic jelly cubes, and a side of small gnocchi with bacon and baby bok choy. The turbot was perfectly cooked but the almond provided very little flavor or texture as it was far from being a crust. The coconut citrus jus felt too strong for this dish and the constant theme of throwing in the sweet and slight bitterness on the side was not getting it done for me. I much prefer the turbot entree at David Burke and Donatella. The side was fantastic though. Simple flavors that go together well and excellent small gnocchi.

Scottish red-legged partridge au jus over red cabbage with sweet potato puree, a dollop of concentrated black garlic, and a side of partridge leg "royale" over a polenta cake. This was a much more successful dish with the partridge over some sweet red cabbage. I would have preferred a gamier meat to the rather chicken-like partridge, but the combinations worked well in this dish.

Small wedge of Brillat-Savarin with sour cherry pate de fruit, a chickpea chip and some celery root. This was my favorite dish of the night. Brillat-Savarin is a brie-like cheese that is wonderful. You can find a description of it on wikipedia. The combination with the sour cherry pate de fruit was amazing. This was also the first dish where it didn't feel like the chef was forcing 5 or 6 flavors into one dish and just let two terrific flavors and textures that went together shine.

Predessert of mango sorbet with some lime stuff. I'm not a big fruit person so I ate it but it didn't really do anything for me.

Creme cake soaked in orange custard with 3 fruits on top (i only remember one was fig) and amaretto ice cream. The orange custard/creme went really well with the cake and made me really enjoy the fruits on top as well, even though I don't actually like any of them. This was wonderful.

Gianduja Palette with coconut ice cream and yuzu. Chocolate and coconut are a good combination but I thought the yuzu was out of place, especially as it wasn't a very rich dense chocolate.

Finished off by a great assortment of petit fours. In fact after sampling every type they gave me a bunch of chocolates to take home.

Overall: To me it was hit or miss. As I've mentioned before, I like simple flavors that go well together. Some of these dishes seemed forced in the use of the extra sweetness or bitterness. I really liked the sides, which were more concentrated simple flavors. I think I would go back again but I would order from the prix fixe ($76 for 3 courses) and try to add the brillat savarin course. That way I'd probably end up with something closer to what I like. Overall it was a pleasant experience and there was a definite show of the chef's skills, and the service was terrific.

Because I was early for my reservation I walked around a little bit and came across a little girl and her father. It looked like they were looking for a place to eat but the places around there were all too "grown up". As the two of them were talking I overheard the little girl say, "Tribeca is not Manhattan". Thoughts anyone?

Been Away

My AC adapter for my laptop melted (again) and so I wasn't online at home for a few days. That was probably a good thing for my blog since my NFL picks last week would have sucked again. But I'm back and there should be a few posts coming soon.

A quick word on the election. Congratulations to Barack Obama for winning by a sizeable margin. That was the most important thing that he took a bunch of states away. As for his first address on Friday as President-elect, being 15 minutes late was not cool. The squawk guy on our futures feed from the pits seemed really pissed that he was late. Or he was probably just pissed as a Republican.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

NFL picks

Buff -1 @ Mia and Jax -7 hosting Cle.

Miami's been competitive but Buffalo is still a more complete team. Jacksonville has had a tough schedule so far so it'll be good to see whether they can run up the score on a weak team now.

Friday, October 17, 2008

NFL picks

Even as I continue to get destroyed by this market, I try my best to provide my NFL picks since they've been awesome. This week, Jets-3 at Oakland and SD-Buff over 44. I really like the Jets here, who have a good run defense and sneak in under the radar because they're not a dominant team. But they're good enough at beating bad teams to make this easy. Also, I really believe the media portrayal that the Raiders' players played really hard for Lane Kiffin. So that 3 game stretch where they were ultra competitive needs to now be erased from our views of this team.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

NFL picks

I like Saints -7 at home against Oakland, Philadelphia -4.5 at San Francisco.
I'm too busy throwing up from losing way too much money at work the last three days to give any reasons. Have a good weekend.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Epic horse race

The false start at the Prix de L'Abbaye on the L'Arc de Triomphe card was especially tragic because we missed the opportunity to watch what might have been a fantastic duel between Overdose, who ran a 54.5 in the cancelled race, and Marchand D'or, clearly the top European sprinter of the current campaign.

There is some good news to look foward to though as there is the possibility of an all-world field at the upcoming Hong Kong International Sprint. With likely confirmations from Sleepless Night (Japanese Sprinters' Stakes winner) and Apache Cat (winner of 5 consecutive Group 1's in Australia), the possible addition of Marchand D'or and Overdose, and hopefully a fully recovered Sacred Kingdom (world champion sprinter last year), this might be the best and most well-represented (globally) field in horseracing history.

Sure, there are many world championship events every year, but how many of them actually feature top quality champions from so many different jurisdictions? While the Dubai World Cup meet probably does the best job, and the Breeders' Cup the worst, in attracting world-class talent from around the world, this might actually top them all if all of these possible entrants show up. The last race to my recollection that had this much quality from around the world was the 1999 Japan Cup, where Japanese champion Special Week took down Hong Kong's best in Indigenous, with High Rise (Epsom Derby winner) and Montjeu (L'Arc winner) in third and fourth.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Japanese noodle lunches

The other day I walked over to 10th St and 4th Ave to try Ippudo, which calls itself a Japanese Ramen-noodle Brasserie. It seems to get a lot of good reviews online so I decided it was worth a try during lunchtime. The space is nice and the seating consists of bar (in front of open kitchen), booths, or big communal tables. The music is a little louder than "just in the background" as I would like.

As for the food, the lunch set was $16 and consisted of a bowl of ramen (I chose the classic pork broth and sliced pork) which is $13 by itself and a salad and a bowl of rice (with cod roe, pork, or vegetables to choose from) for the extra $3. This probably is a personal opinion thing, but I was just not a fan of the noodles. They were very thin (think Cantonese noodles, the type with wonton noodles) and didn't have much bite. The broth was excellent but the sliced pork was ordinary. The best thing was in fact the extra pork belly topping, which at $3 for 2 pieces is probably the best deal on the menu as other toppings include extra sliced pork, flavored egg, or tandoori chicken (I don't get tandoori anything from a place without a tandoor oven on premises). Adding the belly pieces and pouring the sauce and fat to the broth and noodles definitely brought it up a notch for me. By the way, an order of extra noodles costs $2. Overall I liked it, but I wouldn't rate it as high as what I've seen online. I really miss Chikubu's Friday lunch ramen. Too bad the owner had to go back to Japan.

There is another Japanese noodle lunch around that area that I do rave about and that is Sobaya on 9th St and 3rd Ave. There are a lot of choices for lunch but I usually go with the the rice and noodles set, which is a small bowl of rice (with many choices of toppings from grated yam to eel to tuna steak) and noodles of your choice (hot or cold soba or udon) with a couple small portions of appetizers. My favorite is the tuna steak don, with nicely seared tuna in a flavorful garlic soy sauce and the cold soba. This costs $18.50 but is well worth it. To kick it up another notch, I usually order a tempura appetizer which is not on the menu (in fact, I've had a waitress there give me attitude about it not being on the menu). In my opinion it's a great bargain, as for $6 you get three shrimp and two vegetable tempura (usually a leaf and a pepper, but I frequently ask for substitutes). Even at whatever local cheap Japanese joint near you it'll usually cost you more than that for much worse tempura.

To top it all off and make it even more outrageously decadent, you can go right across the street to Max Brenner for some chocolate. I prefer an iced chocolate. Not the smoothie or whatever crushed ice drink they serve, but you can get the employee (is a hot chocolate maker also a barista?) there to make you a hot chocolate and shake it up with just enough ice to cool it and it's a great sweet treat that doesn't feel as heavy.

Politically Incorrect

As most of my friends know, I'm not a politically correct person at all. So if this post in any way offends any of my 5 readers, I apologize.

So this morning my cousin called me just to check up and see how I was doing in the current market crisis. One of the things she asked was whether I was going to vote. When I replied no, she asked me why. After a couple seconds of thought, I replied that the best way to express my reason was that "I don't believe in the system". As I mentioned to a friend earlier this week, I think we will eventually see a black president or a female president long before we will ever see a Buddhist president or a Jewish president (well that one's just because the President doesn't make that much money).

The US is by and large a Christian nation. So instead of always talking about how the "A"rabs are attacking you because of your freedoms, maybe its because your god is mentioned on your currency, not theirs. Maybe it's because an opinion on whether or not women can have abortions is a presidential issue in this country. Not that I think stoning them is a better solution.

The bailout vote is a perfect example of why I don't believe in this government. There are almost 500 lawmakers between the Senate and the House of Representatives and many of them don't know enough about the economy to understand all the reasons for, against, and the consequences of this bill. Yet a couple of paragraphs about taxes on wooden arrows and rum will get them to change their vote? As my friend put it, "I don't understand the peculiarly american notion that your leaders should be like the common man."

Another problem I have with the process is that the United States seem less and less united. Not only do we have completely different legislative and fiscal problems between states, we have a VP candidate who mentioned many times in her debate that she wants more to be left to the discretion of the state. And because of the way the system is set up, most elections essentially come down to a few swing states and that's it.

So, after all that, anybody wanna buy my vote?

Taste of Korea 2008

It's time for Taste of Korea 2008

I was out there in Ktown early this afternoon and walked through the little street fair thing they have set up on 32nd street between 5th and Broadway. It was pretty crowded but looked interesting. Too bad I really don't know enough about Korean food or culture to truly appreciate it. Most signs and "menus" were written in Korean so that didn't help. It did seem that this was an event for Koreans, not the usual serving of bastardized versions of traditional food with lesser quality meats to Americans.

The one thing that caught my eye was this huge pot (cauldron? what's a word for a really big stone pot?) of Bibimbap, which I assume is the main attraction of the Bibimbap event. There's definitely a lot of food there. Maybe as much as three meals for me.

Friday, October 3, 2008

NFL picks

I will only say that I went 1-1 last week since I obviously would not suggest taking the over with Carson Palmer out of the Cleveland-Cincinatti game. This week I like NE -3 at San Francisco, SD-6.5 at Miami, and over 44.5 in the Buffalo-Arizona game.

This week I'm going to try to focus on matchups. I think New England's big, slow defense will work better against San Francisco than it did against Miami, and while J.T. O'Sullivan has been great for the 49ers this season, he's been sacked a lot and it'll catch up with him. San Diego, on the other hand, has a much faster defense and a much more explosive offense, and they should roll over Miami. As for the last game, even without Anquan Boldin, there are still a lot of offensive options in Arizona. While Buffalo has been praised for its defense, they've consistently put up points so far this season and Edwards really steps it up in the fourth quarter. I think Buffalo's offense will continue to be underestimated in the lines for a couple more weeks to come.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Wild day and some NFL thoughts

Wow I didn't think the bill wouldn't pass the house. Good for the house GOP. They're fighting both Bush and the dems now. I've never seen carnage like this. The numbers were way beyond anything I've seen in my 5+ years of trading. Dow down 780, Nasdaq down 200, S&P down 95. The moment it was clear the bill wasn't going through, we sold off right to where we were before the news of a bailout first came out a little less than 2 weeks ago. We took a breather but then kept selling off some more. It was kinda scary, though I'm not so sure what's going on since we sold off hard to start the day anyway. Maybe someone knew something. I sure don't. I have no idea about anything at this point. But at least if we're going down, Buffett's coming with us this time.

Thoughts on the first quarter of the NFL season:

1. I was a Bills fan back in the days of 0 for 4, and it's nice to have a bandwagon to jump back on again, although the last time I was rooting hard for Buffalo the Music City Miracle happened. Even though they haven't beaten any really good teams, they are playing solid on offense, defense, and special teams and will get better late in the season when Parrish comes back. More importantly they are closing out games. Whether ahead or behind, they are making things happen in the fourth quarter and Trent Edwards looks confident.

2. Speaking of closing out games, that seems to be the main problem with the Raiders. But I can see them really coming on in a couple of years, because they have a lot of talent. However, they first need a head coach who doesn't kick a 76 yard field goal as his last play of the half with an opposing defender (Cromartie) who has had experience returning a ball the length of the field.

3. I will always believe that there needs to be a "game theory coordinator" in sports. Too many of these head coaches and managers have no idea how to manage clock and proper risk/reward. Another bad call that was made was when the Saints kicked a field goal already up by 11 with a 4th and 3 and 30 seconds left in the game. The FG does nothing really and gives the opponents better field position to attempt to score 2 TDs than if you go for it on 4th and 3 (which also ends the game if you convert). Sure it's trivial, but these guys make the same mistakes in major situations as well (Cleveland FG against Steelers earlier in the season), and it's a big reason why Belichick is so far ahead of the pack.

4. Can we revoke the NFC West's playoff berth and give it to the NFC East? The Eagles are in last place in that division right now.

5. The Titans are definitely for real with great old school football (defense and running) and Kerry Collins doing just enough. Did you know that Kerry Collins passed the 35000 yard mark earlier this season? If they win the Superbowl, we would at least be thinking about whether Collins belongs in the Hall of Fame, right? 35k+ yards, two SB appearances and a conference title game.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

NFL picks

So far so good to start the season (6-3-1), although I personally managed to get the Baltimore under at 38.5. This week's picks include Denver -9.5, New Orleans -5, and the Cleveland-Cincinatti over 44.5.

When the lines first came out, both Denver and San Diego were 9.5 point favorites. But Oakland is clearly a better team than Kansas City and San Diego is at best equal to Denver given how close they played. In stock-speak, I would have recommended going long one and short the other, ie. take Denver -9.5 and take Oakland +9.5. Since then, the line has moved to San Diego -7.5, so that game is now off my radar. Denver still has an amazing offense and I just can't see the Chiefs keeping up with them. And since I don't expect the Chiefs to have a shot on their last possession, that means I expect Denver to win by more than a TD, so 9.5 looks pretty solid. New Orleans is battling a lot of injuries but their offense is still very explosive with playmakers like Brees and Bush. The over might not be a bad play here. I just don't trust the 49ers, who have beaten two bad teams (yes I consider Seattle a bad team) and are playing on the road where the Saints have had a pretty good home field advantage. As for the last pick, I'm just going to point out that these two teams have played against Balt (twice), Dallas, NYG, Tenn, and Pitt. All outstanding and tough defenses. While I'm not expecting a shootout like the ridiculous one last season, mid 40s is a reasonable number to expect these teams to go over.

My thoughts on the financial mess as it is now

First off, I'm one of the ones not drinking the Warren Buffett koolaid. I don't really think he's betting on Goldman or the economy per se. Here is a great post that describes the math of what's really happening, and don't forget to read the comments section, also filled with some very good information and views.
And given the fact that Buffett has written some US$40billion worth of S&P puts, it helps him to seem like he's confident about the economy.

As for this "bailout", it's really quite awful. The market's been overleveraged for some time now and there has not been real deleveraging except for Lehman's implosion. A bank selling leveraged bets/assets to another bank does not take it out of the system, it merely moves it around. So what happened? Basically we started with X amount of money, and in a few years, we borrowed and leveraged it so that on paper, we all had Y>>X amount of money. Those who were smart enough to take it off the table, they can retire now. Those pension funds or big mutual funds that don't just get in and out of the market, they watched Y turn back down towards X. But Y didn't really exist in the first place. This bailout sounds like it's basically going to hold onto Y until a time when it might actually become Y. A real RTC would be much more useful. Force these banks to sell off the assets, liquidate when necessary, and kill a couple banks in the process. This may be more likely to cause the implosion we need to get back away from this non-existant Y amount of money. Instead, we're going to pay Y to all these financial institutions, and Bush/Paulsson have used this "we must act now" bullshit to scare Congress into this. Not only that, but this is an election year, and for some reason "recession" sounds like death to too many people. The economy is cyclic. We need recessions. Let's just get ours over with.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

NFL picks

After going 2 for 3 in both the first two weeks of the season, I have 4 picks for this week. I like Atlanta -6 (the line was -5.5 for most of the week), Buffalo -9.5, New Orleans-Denver over 51, and Cleveland-Baltimore under 38.

Atlanta has already shown that it can win at home, and the Chiefs have allowed big games by the opponents' rushing game so far this season (McFadden last week, New England running backs averaged 5+ yards per carry) which should play right into the Falcons' hands. Buffalo has been a very solid team so far this season, having been able to beat their opponents on all three sides of the ball (offense, defense, special teams). More importantly, they can stop the run, which is the only thing Oakland has going for them. Everybody expects a shootout in Denver this week, and I don't see how these teams will disappoint. Both have big play receivers, slow secondary, and cannon-arm quarterbacks. Lastly, I just don't see how Cleveland will score against this rested and rejuvenated Ravens defense, while looking back at Baltimore's week 1 game, their two scores basically came when they broke two big run plays. Cleveland has actually handled that pretty well, keeping opponents from breaking the big play on the ground.

Although I like these picks as is, I understand that any of these picks would work well in a teaser, so have fun with that.

Friday, September 19, 2008

No shorting

Today's market just felt completely artificial. Citigroup opening at $22? So basically people could gap the stocks to ridiculous prices and force the shorts to cover into them so they can get out. What a joke. I strongly disagree with this move and think they're just trying to place the blame without actually dealing with the situation, like that pension fund moron that went on CNBC and blamed the shorts. This is America after all, where parents ban a kid from playing little league because he's too good.

These artificially high prices don't mean anything. It doesn't "instill confidence" back into the markets. Who's going to suddenly want Citigroup at 22 thinking it's going to 40 because of this? All this will do is hinder the flow of trading. They might as well have just closed the markets for 2 weeks if the move is to serve as a "timeout" so the markets can take a breather and whatever plans have been initiated so far can get rolling. At least that way I can take a vacation.

Now, I believe in the ability to short whatever and whenever you want as long as you follow protocol and locate and borrow the stock. But I propose a middle ground that might be better than this no shorting at all thing. How about the "upday rule"? Instead of only being able to short on an uptick (like the old "uptick rule"), you can only short if the stock is up on the day from the previous close. That way, when a financial stock gets beaten down, you can't pile on. Sure there might be short sellers trying to prevent bounces, but you won't have short sellers driving a stock to 0 (this is what they claim is going on after all). And there's no real way of manipulation like there is with the uptick rule. Comments anyone?

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Blue Hill

Being one of the few people who dropped a bunch of money on a day where many current and former coworkers made ridiculous sums, I needed a good meal to ease the pain. Being in the area, I stopped by Blue Hill, the critically acclaimed restaurant that is number 1 on the New York Observer's list of top 10 greenmarket restaurants. The meal was fantastic but since I didn't feel like sitting down for a long tasting menu, I'm just going to write a few things about the experience.

1. Solo diners get the full range of amuse and prestarters that would normally accompany the tasting menu or farm feast menu. They were simple and probably even better than the rest of the meal. I wish more places would treat solo diners so well.

2. For a guy who is pretty much a carnivore, I have to tell you, I enjoyed every bit of vegetable and fruit on offer. Everything had that ridiculously fresh crispness or softness to it. Among the amuse selections were just simple raw fresh vegetables and they were so, so good. I can only describe the nuttiness of the tomato flavor with the word gorgeous.

3. I walked in at 630pm and was easily seated with no reservation. There is also full menu dining in the bar area. The dining room has a really nice feel to it.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

NFL picks

I stopped with the MLB picks because there were just not enough favorable lines this year. At least I stopped with a positive record and balance. To make up for it and to give me a reason to write more posts since I've kinda neglected the blog, I'll start posting some NFL picks.

Last week for myself, I chose Detroit -3, NYJets -3, and Pittsburgh -6.5. That resulted in 2 out of 3 wins. This week, my three choices are Tennesee ML or whatever you can get, Arizona -6.5, and Seattle-SF Under 38.

It's unclear as it is whether Kerry Collins is that much of a downgrade from Vince Young, so why is a team that beat a strong Jaguars team an underdog against a Cincinatti team that couldn't beat a Joe Flacco-led Ravens squad? As for Mia@Arz, I believe that weak teams play significantly better at home, so I expect a better performance from Arizona and a worse performance from Miami compared to week 1. As for the last pick, I have no idea where any offense is coming from in that game. Good luck to all!

Thursday, September 4, 2008


Flipping channels right now between Ed Hochuli showing off his guns in the Giants game and Djokovic dominating Roddick at the US Open. After watching Mardy Fish come out strong against Nadal yesterday, I realized that to beat Nadal, a player would have to have a powerful serve with a kick and the ability to come into the net. I don't think Federer's serve is what it used to be as he doesn't have many 15+ace matches nowadays and while Roddick's serve is powerful, it's flatter. I think Sampras back in his prime would be able to consistently beat Nadal. Watching Djokovic right now though, he does have the serve that could give Nadal trouble. He doesn't come into the net much, but his ground strokes are very solid for sure. As much as everyone is looking foward to another Nadal-Federer rematch and the fight for the true number 1 ranking, I could easily see Djokovic beating Nadal. After all, this is Nadal's first US Open Semi as it is.

Right after I wrote and posted the above, Roddick has just come back to win the 3rd set, and I also realized that since Nadal is the 1 seed, Djokovic would have to beat Federer first to get to Nadal, and I'm not sure that's going to happen.

A quick point on the upcoming election

First off I'm going to remind everyone that I don't vote. As someone who works in finance, I obviously agree to some extent with general Republican policies. But the over-conservative and overly religion-based politicos of the recent regime have been driving me nuts.

So I buy a little of what both sides are selling. But I do have a preference if I were to vote this year. First, let me pose a question. Does anyone really think either of these two candidates will end up doing a horrendous job in office? I actually think either one would end up doing a very good job, though each with their own methods. So for me, it's a matter of long-term utility. If Obama loses, he's not going to pull a Gore. He seems like a guy who really believes in change, believes he'll be the person to bring that change, and just seems like a life-long politician. McCain, on the other hand, is old. It's doubtful he will run again if he loses this year. As I don't see anybody really stepping up in the near future, my feelings are quite simple: I'd rather see 4-8 years of McCain followed by 8 years of Obama than 8 years of Obama followed by I don't know who. And for those who are thinking 8 years of Obama followed by 8 years of Hillary, dream on.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Quick catching up

As usual, just as things start going well again at work, I find a way to blow up. However, I still think I can recover nicely and this week will be crucial in deciding whether I can take a trip to Hong Kong in September. So everyone wish me luck in trading this week, especially those who want to see me in Hong Kong!

Among other things, a huge market has opened up downstairs right in the building. It's called Food Cellar & Co. and essentially is as big as a Whole Foods type place and has the sushi and hot foods sections as well. The best part is that they have an oven specifically for made-to-order pizzas and they're actually pretty good. This is a really good development since I was starting to get bored with the food options around here.

Quick trip to Boston

Was up in Boston last week for 4 days to attend a wedding. Congrats to Hao Yuen and Munyi!! During my time up there, I stayed for two nights at the Liberty hotel, which used to be a jail and is right next to Mass General Hospital. It's pretty classy, and houses one of the hottest bar/lounges in the city. I was very pleased with my stay.

Much of the trip was also spent eating, with way too much artery-clogging goodness. Wednesday started off with dinner at Hamersley's Bistro, with the always delicious roast chicken entree (practically the only time I order chicken at a restaurant) and a deliciously fatty calf's brain appetizer. Thursday lunch was spent at one of my favorite and very underappreciated sushi places in Boston, Sakurabana in the financial district. To the surprise of me and my friend, they had kobe beef sushi and tataki along with our usual preferred choices of bonito, suzuki, and hamachi belly.

Thursday dinner deserves a paragraph all by itself, as I spent over 3 and a half hours with my friend at Clio for the 14 course tasting menu which became 15 when we augmented an A5 kobe beef dish. It was a tasty and whimsical meal, with several fun courses and the iron chef experience with liquid nitrogen being used to create a sorbet tableside. My favorite highlights included:

A tomato water martini with basil oil, caper berry, and tomato popsicle.
Geoduck sashimi and BBQ, which was the first time I've had BBQed geoduck and that was nice.
A two hour slow-poached egg, which was special because when I asked whether it was sous-vide, they said it wasn't because it wasn't in a vaccuum bag but poached in the shell.
Two beautiful seared diver scallops with textures of tomato, rhubarb, and szechuan pepper.

Friday was mixed food-wise, as I had two lunches with the two Boston offices where I worked. After two slices of pizza I joined a whole bunch of guys for a disappointing (but not unexpectedly so) restaurant week lunch at the steakhouse named the Oak Room. Reminds me of the restaurant week disaster at Smith and Wollensky's from a while back. I'm not big on restaurant week to begin with but above all else I strongly strongly suggest not choosing a steakhouse to sample. Friday dinner was much nicer although it was basically a cow overdose. Bone marrow and oxtail for appetizer, a 30 oz bone-in rib eye for entree, and a shortrib mac n' cheese for a side which doubled as my dessert since it took me forever to finish it.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Cognitive dissonance in trading

Just as I was on a little winning streak trading, I ended up doing something really stupid today. However, I did notice that this stupid trade that I made today is very similar to other stupid trades that I've made before and might be rooted in something psychologically ingrained in all of us.

Basically, the stupid trade looks like this. I have a premise/trade idea that is a combination of a short/medium term catalyst. After entering into the trade, I exit the trade for whatever reason (profit-taking, short term catalyst gone, time spent in trade, etc.). As the stock continues to move in the direction I had predicted, I now don't look for reasons to get back into the trade in that direction, but rather start to look for a fade move against it. This usually leads to much much pain.

An example: Let's say I buy a stock at $10. As it gets to $10.25, I notice there is a seller that keeps holding it down. Not only selling at $10.25, but coming low to $10.20, and seeming to return even after that one order is done. Seeing this new seller, I decide to exit the position, thinking supply/demand is saturated here. After a bit of time passes, either the market or just the stock proceeds to continue the move with speed and force. Before I can decide to join in again, the stock is at $10.50 and beyond. Now, however, I often find myself rationalizing a viewpoint to fade the move. Thoughts like "the stock has just made a 5% move" or "I think that's the seller coming back in" tend to just lead to a lot of pain as I keep getting squeezed through $11 and so on.

Now, obviously I traded like a moron. But I'm beginning to wonder whether part of what's behind the thought process comes from cognitive dissonance. I did a quick example of cognitive dissonance in this random daily thought from over a year ago: RDT Post
In short, cognitive dissonance refers to the mind's need for our thoughts and actions to be consistent (ie. not contradictory).

I don't recall the exact study, but I remember my professor describing a study about cognitive dissonance: Subjects were asked to do a task on a computer. The task was extremely boring and repetitive. After the completion of the task, subjects were paid either $1 or $20 for their participation. After receiving the payment, subjects were asked how much they enjoyed the task. According to the results, the subjects who received $1 on average responded to having enjoyed the task more than subjects who received $20. The authors' conclusions were that their minds experienced dissonance from performing such a boring task for only $1 that they resolved the contradiction by believing the task to be more enjoyable.

With regards to the trade, I'm wondering whether I start to think about reasons why the stock would come back instead of keep on going because it's consistent with me having exited my position earlier. Now, if cognitive dissonance was really such a factor, noone would sell their positions because it's contradictory to them buying it in the first place. However, in this case I had two contradicting beliefs already (the buy and the sell) and it seems that the most recent one had more sway over my thought process.

Oh well, whatever, maybe I'm just a moron who can't trade and am just whining. Have a good weekend everyone.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Happy Birthday to Me

This past Saturday was my birthday, and I had a great time. Went to the Red Sox-Yankees game (tickets thanks to Jared, one of the partners at the office), which was great with some drama in the ninth inning. This was my first (and likely last) time at Yankee Stadium and it was cool.

Then we went to Hooters to eat some wings, drink some beer, and watch the UFC fights (No cover!!). All 5 fights were competitive and fun.

I just woke up from a late afternoon nap, since the Wimbledon final went a total of about 7 hours. Great match though. Again, lots of drama. Who knows, in 4-5 years we might debating whether Nadal or Woods is the most dominating athlete in the world.

Oh well, back to that headache of a market tomorrow. Good luck to all and hope everyone had a great long weekend!

Monday, June 30, 2008

Value bet of the day (VBOTD)

Under 8.5

Stults has been sensational in his first two stints since they made him a starter while Oswalt has quietly put together 5 quality starts in his last 6 outings. Combine that with the Dodgers having played 7 straight unders and the Astros having played 7 unders in their last 9, and 8.5 looks like a lot of runs.

Under 9.5

David Bush has pitched 5 quality starts in his last 6 outings and sports a .9 WHIP in his last 3 starts while Doug Davis has pitched 6 quality starts in his last 8 outings. Milwaukee has also played under in 5 of their last 6 outings, but perhaps the strangest thing is that 9.5 is the most runs in a total line for Arizona in their last 10 games, even though Arizona has pushed or gone under the total in 9 of those 10 games. I don't see any reason to fight the trend here.

Running total: +5
Record: 9-8

Saturday, June 28, 2008

No value no bets

If you're wondering why I haven't posted any value bet picks, it's because there really haven't been any in a while. There are so-so bets and some decent bets, but nothing that stands out in value of late. Hopefully that will change after the all-star break.

In other news, although I haven't followed it at all, it seems we're stuck with the UIGEA. Story here

As for myself, I've ballooned in weight to new highs from the Vegas trip and the stress from work. I am not trading well, and can't seem to get my head together for 3 days straight. The market is up and down and merciless towards any mistakes right now. So I'm back to another diet just to get my weight back to at least manageable. Hope the second half of the year will be better for me and all my (what, 3?) readers.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

One more Vegas note

For those who plan to stay at the Bellagio. Internet access is about $14/day. But they don't have wireless. They charge $13 for an ethernet cable located in the minibar! So don't forget to bring your own ethernet cable!

VBOTD (value bet of the day)

Under 8

King Felix hasn't given up an earned run in his last three starts while Scott Olsen also has a nice streak of 3 consecutive quality starts. Neither team has been hitting particularly well, especially Seattle which has just managed more than 3 runs once in its last 9 games.

Running total: +115
Record: 9-7

Vegas baby Vegas

Just came back from a 4 day weekend in Las Vegas for a friend's bachelor party.

The last time I went to Vegas, I was at the Hilton, and there weren't as many people. This time, I stayed at the Bellagio and there was a blackjack tournament going on as well as the World Series of Poker. There were so many people in fact that the Bellagio was overbooked for Thursday and Friday night from what I heard. So this is the real Vegas. Besides seeing some poker names and people who'd been televised in the World Series of Blackjack, the only recognizable face I saw was Dog the bounty hunter.

The food in the smaller Bellagio restaurants were nice and not as crazily overpriced as I would have imagined. We only ate the lunch buffet so it wasn't the gourmet spread, but the food was still good in quality. For dinner, we ate at L'atelier de Joel Robuchon (people who know me know how much I love it) twice and Craftsteak once for our group dinners. Both have branches in NYC, so it wasn't as much destination dining for me. L'atelier was superb on both occasions, the highlights being all the soups, including a gazpacho, a lobster vichyssois, and an asparagus soup. Craftsteak was underwhelming, but looking back, this could have been a result of ordering a group menu.

We also had the tartare showdown, comparing the steak tartare at Craftsteak, Red Square, and L'atelier. My vote went for Red Square, which had the best simple beef flavor and the best texture. Red Square was also one of the few places where we found hangar one vodka. For those who've never had it, please try it if you ever come across it, it'll usually be in a high class restaurant/bar. Red Square actually had 240 different kinds of Vodka, and I was surprised to find out that it was in the China Grill Management umbrella.

There was more to the weekend than just food, but food is all I'm going to write about. ;-) I do expect to be back soon though. There's just so much out there. The only other thing is that it was way too hot and dry. As I was standing by the pool, I could literally feel the moisture getting sucked out of me and I raced back indoors as quickly as I could.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Value Bet of the Day (VBOTD)

Under 9

Both pitchers have been pitching very well of late, and Wandy Rodriguez has always sported one of the widest splits among starters, pitching much much better at home. Neither offense has been cranking, and Houston's in particular was abysmal before this series. 9 is a great value when Wandy pitching at home is equivalent to many name pitchers.

Running total: +15
Record: 8-7

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Everyone who bet on Big Brown

... got what they deserved. To bet a horse with a possible injury situation that has never run a mile and a half and is racing for the third time in 5 weeks down to unbackable odds is just mind-boggling. 1-4? Lunacy.

If I had to guess, my guess is an irregular heartbeat. The horse certainly didn't bleed out, but I don't think it's internal bleeding either. From what Desormeaux said, there were a couple times early that the horse wanted to go, so my guess is it wasn't just the horse not wanting to run the race today. I'm sure there will be a full set of tests run and we'll hear about it on ESPN soon.

My only disappointment from this race was that had he won it, I would have been able to bet heavily against him the first time he ran against older horses. This crop of 3 year olds is just not that good. While his Derby win was indeed very impressive, he's definitely no Curlin.

Value Bet of the Day

... is not going to be Big Brown.
Holy cow with Casino Drive withdrawing I can't imagine what odds Big Brown's going to have. No value whatsoever.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

VBOTD (Value bet of the day)

Under 10.5 -120

Under 9.5 -115

Both league ERA leaders are in games with relatively high total lines, yet the opposing pitchers aren't horrible either. A lot of runs have been scored in the Cleveland-Texas series so far, so I'm sure the lack of bullpen depth was a big factor in the line. However, both Lee and Ponson have shown the ability to go deep this season, and if just one of them pitch to their best, I can't see as many as 11 runs. As for the Cinci-Philly game, Volquez meets the Phillies for the first time since his first start of the season, but in that time he still hasn't given up more than 2 earned runs in an outing. Both games so far in this series have played under, and Myers pitches solidly at home.

Running total: +35
Record: 7-6

Saturday, May 31, 2008

VBOTD (Value bet of the day)

Under 8 -115

Bergmann hasn't given up an earned run in his last 3 starts and everyone knows how good Webb can be. Neither team has been tearing it up hitting-wise, although I've been kinda worried about Arizona's defense. However, 8 runs is still a good value under bet.

Running total: -65
Record: 6-6

There have been a lot less value under bets so far this season than there were last season. It seems to me that a lot of the lines have come down at least half a run compared to similar scenarios last season. There have been a lot more 7 and 7.5 total lines in the American League, and a lot of lines that would have been 8.5 last year are now 8. This makes it tougher to identify solid value lines, but things should be better as the season goes on I think.

Sunday, May 25, 2008


Under 8.5 -120

Lackey was quite a force last season and even with the minor injury setback he's pretty much picked up where he left off. He's entering his prime and should be one of the pitchers that pitches really well but won't become a household name and create great value. Contreras on the other hand is past his prime but has been pitching really well of late. Combine both starters with the fact that these two teams have gone under 5 of their 6 games so far this season and 8.5 looks like tremendous value.

Running total: -165
Record: 5-6

Sunday, May 18, 2008


Under 7.5

The two league ERA leaders facing off in a national league park is very good value at 7.5. This is a great matchup for baseball fans with a couple great stories for the season. Lee, who's been unhittable with an ERA of 0.67, a WHIP of .67 and a SO/BB ratio of 44/4 goes up against Volquez, who hasn't given up more than 1 earned run in any of his outings. Volquez was acquired in a preseason trade for Josh Hamilton, who is leading the majors in RBIs.

Running total: -65
Record: 5-5

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Where are the big name jockeys?

Another expected romp delivered by Big Brown will set up a very intriguing Belmont Stakes, as there is a lot of hype over the Japanese horse Casino Drive, who put in a fantastic win in the Peter Pan Stakes. And no matter which horse comes out ahead in that last race of the Triple Crown, there should be even more amazing races to come when they tackle older horses and most notably Curlin later in the year. So there are still many big name horses. But where are the big name jockeys?

On the Preakness card, I recognized Desormeaux, Prado, Mike Smith, a couple others, but where are the big race Hall of Fame jockeys? I'm not talking about Corey Nakatani, I'm talking about jockeys of the caliber of Jerry Bailey, Chris McCarron, and Gary Stevens. Even guys whose names weren't as well known like Pat Day and Eddie Delahoussaye. It just seems to me that the old guard isn't dominating while at the same time none of the younger jockeys have really stood out. I must say that I don't follow American racing that extensively so I could be missing someone.

So let's look at world turf racing then. Here's an entirely different story. Besides the whirlwind that has been Christophe Soumillon, it seems to me that every big race and every leaderboard is filled with jockeys whose names I've recognized from a lot of years of watching horseracing. Most of these guys range from 38 (Frankie Dettori) to 49! (Michael Kinane). This leads me to one question that I haven't been able to find an answer for on the web. How strict (if at all) are performance enhancing substance policies for jockeys? I know every jurisdiction takes great care in figuring out what drugs are or are not allowed on the horses, but I wonder about the oversight on jockeys. I mean, to be a world class athlete at those ages is really tough, even in this modern day of medicine. No jockey would really take anything to bulk up, but things like HGH which improve recovery time could change the landscape of racing for these aging jockeys.


Under 8.5 -125

Can't seem to catch a break lately. 7 runs in the last 1.5 innings on my last under pick. Ouch. As for this one, Carmona looked really strong last outing with a complete game shutout, and from how he pitched last season he seems to get better as the season goes on. Harang is still pitching very well, and has been the victim of horrible run support, which looks to continue today.

Running total: -165
Record: 4-5

Thursday, May 15, 2008


Under 8

It's been a tough season for me so far. I say nice things about Bedard and Peavy, and they both get rocked. I say that I'm not sure the old Sabathia is back, and he pitches two stellar games back to back. As for this one, I don't think I really have to explain this pick. Aaron Cook vs. Jake Peavy had a line of 6.5 just last week. I don't know why this line is at 8, but I'm taking it.

Running total: -55
Record: 4-4

Wednesday, May 14, 2008


Under 8 -125

Not much needs to be said about Jake Peavy, who I think along with Brandon Webb are the two best pitchers in baseball. Ted Lilly has put together a nice little streak of 4 consecutive quality starts since a horrendous start to the season. San Diego has also played under in 7 of their last 8 games. The line opened at 7.5, and I think I probably would have taken that under too.

Running total: +70
Record: 4-3

Tuesday, May 13, 2008


Under 8.5

Edinson Volquez has looked like the real deal so far this season, having given up no more than 1 earned run in any of his starts. Mark Hendrickson has also pitched pretty well since being a starter this season. Except for his first start of the season, he hasn't given up more than 3 earned runs in any of his other starts and sports a 5-1 record. Two starters who aren't household names keep this line from opening lower, whereas yesterday Oswalt vs. Zito was a 7.5 total purely on name alone. Both of those pitchers have not pitched well at all this season and that one easily went over.

Running total: -30
Record: 3-3

Monday, May 12, 2008


Under 9

The line's gone down a little, but I still like the pick.

Under 9

Even though he had a short DL stint, Bedard has pitched well when he's been on the mound, and has shown why Seattle traded 5 players for him over the offseason. Padilla's been solid all season except for one outing, and he's already had 8 starts so it's no fluke.

Running total: -20
Record: 2-2

Sunday, May 11, 2008


Under 9.5 -115

Jurrjens has put together a nice little streak of 5 consecutive quality starts while Duke has pitched pretty well all season except for 2 outings. Both games in this series have gone under the 9.5 line and I think this is actually the best pitching matchup of this series.

CHW -110

Seattle has lost 9 of its last 10 and I see no reason why they should begin a turnaround here. Chicago sends out Gavin Floyd who's been excellent except for one outing, while Seattle sends out Miguel Batista who sports a 12.54 home ERA. -110 here seems good value to me.

Running total: +90
Record: 2-1

Friday, May 9, 2008


OAK -110

Oakland has been near the top of the standings for most of the young season while Texas has only begun to get hot lately. Greg Smith has pitched very well in all of his outings this year while Scott Feldman is a reliever turned starter, and I tend to be wary of those pitchers. With all of that, it seems to me getting a vig-adjusted even money line (-110) is a good value.

Running total: +200
Record: 2-0

Usually I bet over/unders, but this seemed like a good value bet. Here is a great article on why betting totals is better than betting on teams straight up in general:

There are two interesting pitching matchups tonight that I usually like to take the under on, but the lines did not seem to reflect any value to me. Cook and Peavy are both pitching very well but I just don't like taking unders at 6.5. The only under I might take at 6.5 nowadays is Webb vs Peavy. The other matchup is Halladay and Sabathia, but 7.5 seems a bit low as both offenses aren't hopeless and Sabathia hasn't proven he's back to last year's form yet.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008


Over 7.5 -120

Yes both offenses aren't putting up a lot of runs, and yes both starters are pretty good. But 7.5 is usually reserved for something like a top tier pitching matchup in the NL (something like Brad Penny vs Roy Oswalt, not something like Brandon Webb vs Jake Peavy) and this is an AL game with a DH. Unless this is one of those trap lines where Vegas knows something, it just seems too low a line, even to someone like me who loves to bet unders.

Running total: +100
Record: 1-0

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

VBOTD (Value bet of the day)

Under 8

We all knew Zambrano was a great pitcher, but he's finally showing some consistency, as he's only had one outing this year where he's given up more than 2 earned runs. It's probably from cutting down on the coffee and red bull. As for Harang, don't let his 1-4 record fool you. His numbers are just as good as Zambrano's, with 3 of his 4 losses having been quality starts.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

I have moved

I have finally moved. My new home is in LIC. I'm still buying a few things and waiting for them to get here, and I haven't completely finished unpacking and everything, but I like it so far. I haven't yet decided if I want to arrange a get-together for people to visit, but let me know if you want to say hi and bring me gifts. :-)

Also, I'm allowed to have up to two guests in the gym/rec area with me free of charge for now, although that might change soon. And yes, after I've settled down I expect to put up baseball picks. Although it seems to me all you have to do is bet on Brandon Webb.

This one might be it

I forgot it was even on today until I was walking around my new building's rec lounge and heard "My old Kentucky home". I had no idea who any of this year's Kentucky Derby entrants were. I did remember that last year I was extremely bullish on Curlin and he lost, although now he has demolished both the Breeders' Cup Classic and Dubai World Cup fields.

Being the horse racing enthusiast that I am, I sat down and watched. I saw the odds of all the horses, heard the commentary that there was a decently strong headwind, and if I would have had to venture a guess, I would have picked Colonel John. Then the race started and Big Brown came over from the extreme outside draw, sat 5 wide throughout, made his move going around the final turn, and powered to a victory pulling away. The horse was still jumping at the bit after the race, forcing jockey Kent Desormeaux to dismount.

This was an impressive victory both in the way that he achieved it and how he was pulling up after the race. The horse looks lean and long enough that they might be able to stretch the full mile and a half out of him. This one might be it. This might be the next Triple Crown winner. Although the final time wasn't that fast, this is one of the most impressive performances I've seen in a Derby in a while.

Burger at Old Homestead

I don't tend to go to steakhouses often, and when I do, it's usually to order the signature cut. This includes the porterhouse at Peter Luger's, the mutton chop at Keene's, the double eagle at Del Frisco's, etc. I was in the neighborhood and remembered watching something on TV about a Wagyu burger at Old Homestead so I decided to drop in for a try.

On the menu, there's a 20 oz American Wagyu burger for $41, and a 16oz Japanese Kobe burger for $81. I went for the American Wagyu burger and it was quite a disappointment. The burger was lacking in flavor and the middle, cooked medium rare, was more like a tartare without seasonings. There was just no beef flavor that one expects from a burger. Perhaps I should have tried the Kobe burger, but I don't know if it's worth the experiment now after the disappointment of the Wagyu burger. The tater tots were perfectly crisp, but still felt underseasoned to me. Maybe the chef just ran out of salt when I was there.

I also ordered two jumbo shrimp cocktail, which were quite nice, but expensive at $7 per shrimp. The only plus to the whole experience was that I walked 7 blocks North to Billy's Bakery ( and had a wonderful slice of banana cake (my first time there, I asked the cute girl for recommendations and she said the banana cake was their top seller) which helped put some flavor back into my mouth. I also took a cupcake home and that was quite good too.

Friday, April 25, 2008

A lot going on

There is a lot going on in the next 5 days for me, as I have a lot of bridge planned, and the movers are coming on Monday and my new lease will begin on May 1st. Combine that with work, packing, this spectacular NBA playoffs, a 6 episode House marathon on USA, and the studying (for 63 and CFA 1) I should be doing, and I wonder how much sleep I'll get.

Hopefully after all that, I will have more time, start posting more, start putting up some baseball picks, and maybe even post some pics of the view at the new place I'm moving to.

Dinner at David Burke and Donatella

David Burke and Donatella [Arpaia] ( is actually one of my favorite restaurants in Manhattan, so it's a little surprising that I haven't written about it before. The space is lovely, and the food is superb. I think they still have a smoking limo (a white stretch that sits outside the restaurant for smokers as smoking is banned in small restaurants in NYC), although it might only be a winter thing. It is also one of the best values I've found for food of this quality, with a 3-course prix fixe dinner for $55 (supplements for certain items). They also have a 5-course tasting menu that changes pretty often (every week or two I think) for $75. It's also a pretty good place for a walk-in if you're not going during peak hours.

Tonight's review will be of the 5-course tasting menu that I just had, but since this menu is not on their website, I might miss out on certain ingredients/flavors in my descriptions.

Atmosphere and service: Like I said, the space is lovely, but I usually go as a walk-in during off-peak hours, so I don't really know how the buzz is when the restaurant is busy. Service is as expected for a restaurant of this quality, and they've been even friendlier since I've been there more frequently of late. I even got to meet the chef today.


First course was a hamachi carpaccio. I've had similar variations of this dish before at different places, usually with a lot of citrus and garnishes to provide texture. This one came with pineapple sorbet in fact, and the overall mix was quite nice. This isn't a dish where the fish flavor really stands out, but it's quite refreshing and makes a great starter for the spring season.

Next came their take on the spider roll (soft shelled crab tempura maki). This was a fried soft shelled crab wrapped in brioche with some asparagus and avocado, and fried again. This dish was surprisingly light given that description, with a little mango salad to help cut into the fried goodness. The portions of crab were quite sizeable.

The next course was my favorite of the night. It's a perfect example of how Gordon Ramsay was explaining to a younger chef on an episode of Ramsay's Kitchen Nightmares (UK) about how Michelin stars and AA rosettes are won with dishes that are simpler, with 3 or 4 tastes, instead of trying to confuse the palate with too many flavors. It was a baby halibut T-bone, simply grilled yet the flesh was so tender and flaky it felt like it was steamed (cantonese style). This was served with an asparagus couscous and a dashi-mushroom broth. Fragrant, simple, delicious, well-cooked food.

The main meat course was a surf and turf, with some simple lamb and fried scallop. This dish was solid, with great flavor in the produce, but I was still savoring the previous course.

The dessert was more like two courses in itself, with a tasting which included a fruit tart, a coconut macaroon, and a fig ice cream as well as petit fours that was actually about petit sixteens. The petit fours are presented in a cute little oven toy/prop, which is what petit four actually stands for in French (small oven). Dessert was tasty and completed the very true-to-spring menu.

This was a beautifully crafted spring menu with bright colors and bright flavors. I definitely recommend this restaurant in general, but especially suggest trying to get there before they change this tasting menu. Then again, your opinions could be different from mine.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Long time no blog

It's been a while since I've posted, as I've gone through a horrible streak working and have been pretty much just keeping to myself. The markets are tough right now. Nasdaq posted a 4.2% gain this past week yet I think very few people in my office have really made any money.

On to more important things. My baseball picks. I know there are people waiting for them. I should start posting picks in May. It'll probably take at least until then for this season's stories to start sorting themselves out. I mean, Detroit is the only team so far without a win. Although I have to say, the big NL staff aces have all put in fantastic performances so far in their first outings, including Peavy, Webb, Penny, Zambrano, Hamels, etc.

In other news, I will be moving at the end of April, and I'm looking foward to it. I'll be paying through the roof in rent, but I think the new place will have a great effect on me overall.

Lastly, here's an interesting poker theory question. What two hands will result in the biggest preflop edge one hand can have over another in Omaha?

This is my best guess:

Anyone know how to put in a spoiler on blogspot? (mouse over this)

Anyone else find this question interesting? Can anyone come up with two hands with a bigger edge?

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Daylight Savings Time means...

... springing one hour closer to The Wire finale!!!
Love this show. Gonna miss it. I'm pretty sure it won't just cut to black at the end. I love how almost every still-living character from all the previous seasons has made an appearance of some sort this season (not every, I think Brother Mouzone is still alive and haven't seen him this season).

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Stocks going out of business

A lot of stocks have been beaten down a lot over the last 6 months but the following 3 seemed interesting when a fellow trader and I were looking at them.

RHD and IAR both belong in the same industry. They both do yellow pages and white pages directories. With everything moving online, obviously it's not much of a growth industry. But both these stocks have been annihilated over the last 6 months, with IAR down to $5 from a 52-week high of $38 and RHD down to $6 from a 52-week high of over $80. When we looked at these two stocks, we first noticed that IAR continues to make money, just with no growth. In fact, it's only trading at a P/E of about 2. So that doesn't seem so bad right? But then we looked at the key statistics and according to the numbers on Yahoo finance, both IAR and RHD have 9-10 BILLION in debt. Yikes. With growth turning negative, how are shareholders going to see any returns? It will be interesting to see how these two companies turn out though. It's not like yellow and white pages will become totally obsolete any time soon.

Another stock that's been beaten down that looks interesting is HLYS. I remember trading this stock when it IPOed in the mid $30s and we kept saying to ourselves, it's only a shoe with a wheel in it. Well, people seem to finally have caught on to that and it's down to $4.30 now after its most recent earnings report. However, the key statistics look a lot more interesting. According to Yahoo finance, this company has no debt and $3.30 per share in cash. Those numbers are surprising. It's currently trading at only $1 above how much cash the company has on hand and the company still makes money (again with negative growth though). Seems to me to be a good play for a personal trade, buying a little at this price and if it trades below the cash holding level obviously there's something wrong, but otherwise, it still has 30% of its float short and could easily squeeze up a couple points for some good risk/reward.

Friday, February 29, 2008

Music mashups

I don't tend to talk much about my music tastes because they're pretty eclectic in general. From rap, country, opera, to canto-pop I pretty much enjoy all types of music as long as it's good with a catchy tune or lyrics. Because I don't only enjoy a specific type of music, I find well-done mashups pretty nice. Here are two of the ones I enjoy the most so far. Let me know if you like them too!

Sunday, February 17, 2008

TV's coming back

I'm so happy that the writers' strike is over. As I've posted before, I watch a lot of TV. In fact, one of excuses that I always give as to why I don't want to move back to Hong Kong is that I probably couldn't stand the lack of good TV.

One of the few great shows that are still running new episodes is Lost, and with the ability to catch up on all 4 seasons online, I've gotten back into it. It's a great show if you can watch a whole bunch of the episodes in one sitting, instead of having to wait a week. One of the interesting things about this show is that there are so many fansites and fan forums with theories about what's going on. Some of these theories are quite well-developed in fact. Nowadays, you could probably write one of these TV shows, throw in all kinds of myths and subplots, and have fans bail you out without having to have a real plan in place. Supposedly the writers and producers already know how it's all going to end, as they've already signed on for an exact number of episodes.

Another great show that I watch is Boston Legal, and an interesting tidbit I learned is that even though the overall ratings for the show aren't that super, it scores highest amongst the higher income demographic (19-47 >$100k income) and that is why the show will continue to be on the air for a while.