TGIF: Happy New Year


A few days ago the missus reminded me that I hadn’t posted to my blog in “forever”. I told her that was OK because she gets to enjoy my live-action wit and wisdom every single day. “But what about your other readers?” she asked. “Ah yes…my ‘other’ readers. They’re probably at the edge of their seats wondering what’s happened to me. These other readers.”

So just in case your holiday season felt empty without an update, let’s get the year off to a great start and catch you up. We’ll just see how many random thoughts I can pack in while the kids are off watching Spiderman: Into the Spider-Verse, but rest assured that we’ll resume our regular programming next week.

We had a great time over the holidays. We started with a Colorado ski trip over Thanksgiving. If you want to go skiing on the cheap, the week of Thanksgiving is your contrarian play. You risk having no snow, but every time we’ve tried it we’ve had plenty.

Over the holidays we always try to play a lot of board and card games, and this year was no exception. Every game we’ve purchased from Gamewright has been really solid. Perhaps, as a special treat, I’ll put out an affiliate-link-rich post one of these days to review their top ones.

We spent Christmas in town, but just afterwards I went to Vegas with my eldest son. This trip was born of his envy for the trip I took with my youngest last year.

We had a wonderful time, and the highlight of the trip was seeing Mac King’s magic show. If you are going to Vegas, you should definitely see his act. It’s in the afternoon so it won’t conflict with any of your late night shenanigans, and it is awesome. It’s not a huge theater, and there is something wonderful about a live performance in a more intimate setting, especially given the way most of our entertainment is delivered nowadays.

We also did Slotzilla. It was kinda scary.

We cut the cable long ago, but my one Achilles heel has always been the lack of ESPN. That was brought to a head when my beloved Fighting Irish were playing Clemson a week ago. Fortunately I was able to sign up for a free week trial of Hulu that included ESPN. And as a bonus I was able to cancel the free trial right after the game since Notre Dame got steamrolled. That was considerate of them. But it is nice to know that the cable cabal has finally broken up so even cord-cutters can consume content a la carte.

In the Southern U.S., eating black eyed peas on New Year’s is supposed to bring good luck and prosperity in the coming year. I’ve eaten them all my life, and the missus embraced the tradition when she moved here. My youngest son, however, isn’t so keen on them. He waged a vicious battle of wills (no idea where he got his stubborn streak…), and although we finally got them down, our good luck and prosperity balances may be at a deficit right now.

The 2018 Stock Picking Contest Is In the Books

Some may be wondering about the 2018 stock picking contest. I’ll provide a full update early next week, but it was as ugly as you’re probably imagining. Our victor was the only contestant who produced a positive return.

What did get a little exciting was that Bamble the dog, after holding a comfortable lead over Steve for much of the year, actually fell behind him in December. I won’t spoil the battle for last place, but it came down to just a handful of basis points!

The 2019 Stock Picking Contest Beckons

This year’s contest is a little different. Rather than have folks pick three stocks, enter them into my awesome google docs spreadsheet, then have google kill almost all of the functionality that was going to make my life easy, I decided to fully outsource. I found a stock contest site that will completely automate the contest. As a bonus, it allows active trading all year, so we can indulge our worst impulses. Trading opened with the new year, and Bamble has already made his picks. I gave him a choice between two sets of 10 randomly selected stocks, and he showed no hesitation.


The PATI position is proving to be a problem for Bamble, as the contest site isn’t allowing him to trade that stock. It might have something to do with average volume of like 50 shares or a bid/ask spread of over $2. We may have to swap it out for another company.

We already have a very strong field of contestants, and you’ll meet them all next week. If you’re interested in playing, there’s still time to sign up – just let me know in the comments (we’ll close contest entries early next week, so hurry).

That’s it for now. Happy New Year to everyone, and hope it’s off to a great start.

4 thoughts on “TGIF: Happy New Year”

  1. Hi Paul!

    Happy New Year. Looks like Bamble will have a challenging year with the selected portfolio!

    I would like to participate on the 2019 Stock Picking Context. Please, let me know the details.


    1. Thanks Odysseus – the more the merrier. I sent you instructions via email.

      And I’d be careful of Bamble – this may be his bounceback year.

  2. I guess I qualify as one of your “other readers”.

    Yeah, the end of 2018 was ugly wasn’t it? I’m almost positive I didn’t win due to all the volatility.

    Looking forward to 2019’s contest! Happy New Year!

    1. Indeed! What I may lack in quantity, I more than make up in quality 🙂

      The 2019 contest will reward disciplined buy-and-hold investors like you (and my kids + dog). I may use it to indulge my wildest fantasies – fast trading and lots of shorts. And yes, my fantasies run a bit tame.

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