Moontower #90


Happy New Years all. Even those of you, who like us, celebrate Lunar New Year which is still 6 weeks away. Nobody should feel like they are still left behind in whatever the heck you want to call that last revolution around the sun.

The last few weeks have been a nice break including a week off from work. Our kids spent 2 straight weeks with their cousins and we had a lot of downtime with family. We played lots of games (thanks to my sister for sending Zak Ticket To Ride which was a big hit). Max played chess with an NJ cousin over Zoom…we point the cameras at the board and use the chess grid to announce moves, ie “rook to D4”. We chose not to simply play online because Max is 4 and I think this is a better format for that age.

One fun way to play online is if you use (free) and cast your browser tab to your TV. Then everyone in the room can participate. We did this with some puzzles and all the kids could chime in. It’s  much more social than bending your crooked neck over a small screen. On chrome, just mouse over here:

Yinh is a big goals person. She gets won-the-lotto-level excited from planning her next 13 weeks in the SELF journal. It’s on a technology most of you remember called “paper”. Pronounced with a long “a” sound. (I don’t operate this way, I’m much more of a habit tracker, which might sound similar but is spiritually different and a topic for another time. Or not, I don’t know). Anyway, Yinh led all the older kids in goal-setting exercises and one of Zak’s goals is to beat me in chess in 3 consecutive matches. This of course scared me into adding 15 min a day of chess into my habits to at least delay the inevitable.

So I started by putting myself into the mind of my hunter. I started reading How To Beat Your Dad in Chess (as I searched for the title of that book in Amazon to fetch the hyperlink it auto-completed “how to beat your wife”. Maybe it’s better to just wait for malls to open and buy it at Waldenbooks. Screw you, Amazon). In the intro of the book, I came across a great demonstration of what pattern-recognition skills can look like. They are exceedingly context-dependent. If you are trying to assess how effective a new hire can be or how well your own skills translate to different domains than it’s one of those meta concepts to be aware of.

I wrote a thread about it here including screenshots from the book. (Twitter thread)

Finally, I’ll point you to a little discovery I in Google Sheets.

If you use the following function =CHAR(key) you can generate chess pieces!

For example, =CHAR(9818) will generate a black king.

I discovered this as I take notes in Google Sheets from the book. I got stave Zak off as long as possible. (I actually used this against him last night and yes I’m proud of beating a 7-yr-old. Judge me all you want.)

The Money Angle

  • A counterintuitive investment principle 

    If you spot an investment with a great yield do you want its price to go up right after you buy it? It actually depends. If a stock rips after you buy it, it seems like a good thing. But it has a non-obvious downside. Re-investment risk. If you have a long time horizon and are out of ideas, then your long-term CAGR will actually be worse off. If your investment doesn’t re-rate higher yet its earnings still grow you can often do better.

    @10kdiver demonstrates the math behind that in this thread.

    (The thread doesn’t mention this, but rising prices also attract competition, so this idea ties nicely with the Costco idea I recently quoted)

    By the way, @10kdiver is an absolute must follow. When I grow up I hope to explain financial topics with such clarity and quantitative expertise. I recommend this list of threads to get you started. I was planning to write a math post to explain this topic and @10kdiver did a better job in the thread than I would have done with a blog post, so we all win.

  • Cooperative competition, floor trading, and #fintwit (Twitter thread)

    Floor trading and fintwit share an overlapping dynamic “cooperative competition”. I lay out some basics of the floor trading ecosystem and you will spot analogies.

Last Call

  • The Goal Setting Issue  (Morning Brew)

    If you are interested in goal-setting check out this compilation of different approaches ranging from Andy Grove’s “OKR” to SMART goals. There’s even a post about why you shouldn’t set goals.

  • Favorite podcast episode of 2020 (transcript and audio)
    Dr. Martine Rothblatt on Tim Ferris

    This was extremely uplifting, provocative, and educational. Here’s the intro:
    Dr. Rothblatt is chairman and CEO of United Therapeutics, a biotechnology company she started to save the life of one of her daughters. The company offers FDA-approved medicines for pulmonary hypertension and neuroblastoma and is working on manufacturing an unlimited supply of transplantable organs.

    Dr. Rothblatt previously created and led Sirius XM as its chairman and CEO and launched other satellite systems for navigation and international television broadcasting. In the field of aviation, her Sirius XM satellite system enhances safety with real-time digital weather information to pilots in flight nationwide. She also designed the world’s first electric helicopter and piloted it to a Guinness world record for speed, altitude, and flight duration.

    In the legal arena, Dr. Rothblatt led efforts of the transgender community to establish their own health law standards and of the International Bar Association to protect autonomy rights in genetic information via an international treaty. She also published dozens of scholarly articles and papers on the law of outer space, resulting in her election to the International Institute of Space Law, and represented the radio astronomy community’s scientific research interests before the Federal Communications Commission.

    She has bachelor’s (communications studies, summa cum laude), JD (Order of the Coif) and MBA degrees from UCLA, which in 2018 awarded her its highest recognition, the UCLA Medal, and she holds a PhD in medical ethics from the Royal London School of Medicine and Dentistry. Her patented inventions cover aspects of satellite communication, medicinal biochemistry, and cognitive software.

From my actual life 

Yinh and I managed to get away for 2 nights (taking our total nights away from home in 2020 to 8. I think that might be the lowest number in my whole life. Even the year I was born I probably spent that many nights at my grandma’s house).

We went to a favorite place. The north coast of CA. We drove 2 hours north, this time to Jenner, CA and stayed at the Timber Cove resort. The beach cabin vibe along the wild coast is just my speed. We hiked around Gualala State Park and the shoreline. The waves were huge along stretches of the the coast making the drive along Hwy 1 especially majestic.

We are planning to go back during Spring Break with kids and family to rent a house in Sea Ranch. Any reader recs for things to do (besides what I linked to last year) is greatly appreciated.

Oh one last thing. WW84 was unwatchable. Plan accordingly.

Leave a Reply