Tuesday, May 30, 2006

quality tv in a desert of drivel

I heard about this bbc innovation a few weeks ago when it was first reported. All bbc programming available to watch online for a week after broadcast - now that will be a relief to those of us living in places like NZ where not only is programming often of very poor quality but also marred by so many adverts that enjoying a film or drama is often impossible. TV as we know it is going out the window.

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Political shit from the US of A

This lambasting of GWB is remarkable for mainstream American media nowadays. Clever. Also, Colbert is thankfully absolutely merciless with regards to the Washington press corp. They should have been doing this for the last 6 years.

Friday, May 26, 2006

humdrum

This week has ended up being humdrum - had a major motivation crash Monday and Tuesday as a result of feeling pretty dodgy stomach wise. Now Friday and still feeling a little drawn by it. Ah well. The business plan has not progressed much on paper but I did attend the first of my Business Planning courses, fully government funded here in NZ, where we had the sevices of a very competent facilitator to show us a good map to a business plan. Structured, clear and stimulating. Also nice to meet a couple of different people and hear what they are up to - not really networking in the 'Rotary Club' sense but networking nonetheless. There's some good ideas out there. My idea is a good one. The scope needs to be a little bigger still than I thought, at least in pure cash terms. This is because of the cost of certain types of software which would be best to use - $600 to $900 per user. Given that I initially was planning on having up to 8 users for a bigger campaign this ups the ante significantly. I suppose I need a littel time to assimilate that risk into my thinking. Having said that it would be 80% of the startup costs so it's still quite cheap. The thing is though that such an expense would be pure sunk costs - no way to retrieve them at all. Working it.

Noticed further financial turbulence of course, dips and buying into them, more dips, swings in sentiment. Lots of comment in FT and others explaining the risks the markets suddenly woke up to. This is nothing new to what I have seen. There is definitely a buying opportunity coming up in the next few months. Short of a nuclear attack on Iran I don't see a long term issue here for equity investors. I am definitely a major amateur in these matters but the more I see these swings, corrections, slumps and (inevitable, at least so far) recoveries the more I have begun to see them as buying opportunities rather than 'the end of the world'. The trick is in the timing however, and also to buy with the full intention of holding for at least 5 years at least.

Yoga wise, I am swinging right back to the full 3 month India thing now. Looks like my parents will make it out which is awesome - it will be great to experience the thing there with them for some of the time. My practice has been fragmented this week, and a couple of muscle pulls - one mild one on the front of the chest bizarrely - have meant that much of my awareness is being brought to the concept of acceptance. Acceptance of where one is, acceptance of things as they are. Acknowledging all the time the dynamic nature of these same things. Acceptance implies not giving up but seeing without judgement. Therein lies the purity of the idea that is detachment. So often we attach judgement to any acceptance, judging ourselves or others in some way, but to accept with no judgement must be liberating for all concerned. It certainly can remove barriers to progression and development in something like an ashtanga practice. So if the week has been humdrum, certainly in comparison to last week then the harm only comes from the attachment to the idea of comparison between the two weeks. I am subtly different to how I was last week, so would it be right to compare my experiences from one week to the next?

Saturday, May 20, 2006

India isn't going anywhere

The last week has seen me starting to write a business plan. I realised that the 'one man band' model just won't cut it for my idea and so more structure means more planning. As a result I have become a bit of a desk jockey again in life. Have been waking very early and working on it all day. Got myself fixed up with some business training (all government funded amazingly) in marketing, planning and finance which starts over the next couple of weeks and I have also started to get together a reasonable spreadsheet for doing the financial side of things on.

Obviously I still have plans to go to India as well - and I intend to do so but I am also aware that if I get this plan together within the next month or so and it looks good then I may be itching to get on with it, or there may be work opportunities to take advantage of - which might be to good a chance to miss. If this happened then I would either cut India short or shelve it. India isn't going anywhere. If I have to cash in the ticket so be it. On the other hand, it'll still be an option if I want to do it.

One result of sitting down all week is that my left hip has really tightened up, or at least it feels tighter. I can still do Mari B and C but it feels harder. Having said that, the practice as a whole is definitely back on that upward, lighter, stronger trajectory of a couple of months back. In the interim I have had some pretty hard sessions - taking a lot of mental energy. Maybe the change is partly due to pratising 4.5 times a week (an easy Friday practice). This feels good and right. In Mysore I realised that if I want to go only 5 days a week then that'll be just fine. Pressure can only come from me, because the teachers certainly won't be exerting it. With a slightly greater frequency of practice comes another little change - I am beginning to make it into a respectable Padmasana at key points of the Primary series - Urdvha and ordinary Padmasana as well as a half decent Yoga Mudra. All of which is mightly good to feel and do

So, progress is evident in all areas!

As an aside, and based on my observation as well as age old adage I want to draw attention to the corner of the world concerned with finance and all things material. Never has the old saying 'Sell in May and go away' been more apt. Turmoil is looming in the markets, see London equities for example, and not for the first time this is happening mid year after a good run up in the (northern) autumn and spring in share markets. All I can says is that generally these dips, always panic driven and in this case partly inspired by emerging markets problems of a few weeks back and latterly by concerns over high commodity prices and rising interest rates slowing growth, have almost always in recent years (post dotcom boom/bust anyway) been good buying opportunities. Either to get into new stock or to get more of an existing investment in and thereby improve the average price of a holding. There's no doubt that there's a lot to be worried about. Geopolitical risks are definitely on the up - not just with Iran, which is a typical slow burner and could easily take another couple of years before we have the real 'fallout' if you'll pardon the pun, but also over energy in Europe with Russia getting bolshie. And risk indicators like Gold have been showing the effect of this type of thing for a while now. The jump through $600/oz in the last couple of weeks certainly looked like end of rally dynamics or at least time for a bit of a correction. And this correction is spreading out as other commodities look overpriced meaning that producers of these products might not be able to continue to sell at such high prices which in turn leads to concerns about their stockmarket valuations and which is now causing a drop in overall equity prices. But why in the middle of the year? This is to do with market liquidity. In major financial centres people go on holiday or take their foot off the gas at any rate during the summer. Thus comes May and you see fewer people doing fewer trades. This means that shifts in sentiment and big deals will have disporportionate effects on prices. Ergo the current slump. On the upside though, notwithstanding all arguments about trade imbalances and the falling USD (also often a harbinger of equity market collapse), we have to look at why commodity prices are so high. It's because certain regions are growing very quickly. China and Japan are both growing, albeit at very different rates, the US is growing and so is Western Europe. This is essentially pretty healthy. Interest rates are going up as a result. This is the sign of a healthy economy and a normal global interest rate cycle as opposed to the disaster aversion scenarios that have been in place for a few years now.

The US and China have lead the way out. Productivity is good and improving in many key areas and seems to be one reason why oil at these levels hasn't unduly troubled the major economies. Growth, productivity and some fairly nasty geopolitical risks. Nothing new there then, at least not if the last 10 years is anything to go by.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

the business model evolves

Just had a spot of lunch with AP and heard all about the storm that is being caused in her family a bitter ex- of her brother, with whom she has an 8 year old girl. The ex- is losing it. They separated 4 years ago and now for some reason they are having a blow up and she is calling his whole family to tell them what a bastard he is (A said she really didn't think he was) and rant down the phone also calling them 'wogs' (casual Aussie racist term for people of Mediterranean origin). In addition she has told her daughter never to utter that family name of her father in the house. The daughter has the same name as the father. What a mess.

On the subject of this trial I have now completed of the sales/marketing idea - which went well - I have realised that to make it grow and turn it into a useful business is really a two person job. It really is. One person can perform the function required, but too slowly and then that person is stuck doing the job and can't grow the business either by developing new accounts or devising and running current campaigns. So, need a partner basically. Talked to JS about it yesterday, who has a lot of the skills necessary as well as the knowledge and experience. But does she have the motivation? We shall see. The thing I like about the idea so much is that it requires no capital to start with. And it makes profit very quickly. Perfect. I really see it as a business that could be built into something worth $1m+ in 2-3 years. Just need to get it going.

I have practiced 5 days this week. During the week I have noticed a couple of odd things. Firstly my left leg has had a couple of sciatic grumbles particularly after doing backbends - I think my backbends are getting more acute without being uncomfortable. But I hear the sciatic nerve - slow down. The other wierd thing was that upon eating red meat three evenings in a row I woke feeling depressed three mornings in a row. Thai noodles a fourth evening, woke up fine. I don't eat that much red meat anyway so this is not too much of an issue.

The main aim in practicing a little more regularly is so that when I get to India (September 15th, booked and paid for) it will not be too much of a step up to 6 days a week. Having said that, if I don't make it to every practice I will not consider that a problem, but still a little preparation can't hurt.

Saw a really touching and very thoughtful documentary recently called Born into Brothels . Some of the utterances made by these young kids, with almost no education at all, would sit easily alongside the most memorable and most poignant quotes in literature. Because of their intelligence and perceptiveness, which shines from their faces and the screen, this film more than any I have seen recently gives the lie to the concept that the poor, and especially the children of the poor, do not know the nature of the state of existence they find themselves in. They know they suffer, that they are exploited and shackled by circumstance. And they know the possibility of escape in all but the most exceptional circumstances is zero. From the group of ten or so kids who form the focus of the film and who are literally born and raised in brothels in a tiny alleyway in Calcutta only 2 seem to have found a way out at the end of the film, by getting into, and staying in, schools where they can live outside the red light district.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

persistence pays off

Well, the little marketing/sales exercise has begun on a trial basis and the response so far has been surprisingly good - a few more sales would go down well but the level of acceptance from winery mail list customers is very high. People really want to discuss the wines and winery and are positively overjoyed at the prospect of being called occasionally by us. Good news. Have been using Skype for the calls, a lot cheaper than NZ Telecom (gougers that they are) and this works ok - there is a little bit of a delay, particularly for places that are a long way from their local exchange - for example a few of the mroe rural ones. The Auckland and Wellington homes are fine, and even the delay isn't a real issue for a couple of reasons - firstly Kiwis, like Aussies, are a little bit more laid back on the phone than say Brits of Yanks, so a little pause sits ok with them, and also people are used to ropey lines with mobile calls so they tolerate it and it doesn't interfere with the sell. Now, it occurs to me that of course this activity, skype based as it is, is totally portable and thus could be done comfortably from anywhere with a broadband link. Top of the list then for India. All I need to do is get a campaign hooked up to do over October and November and I could be able to earn while in India. Now that would be incredible.

I did of course nearly ditch this whole exercise the other day, but almost because of a lack of anything else ready to get into I thought 'why not play it out, nothin to lose..."

This could be developed and am already talking to a mate at another winery who seems to suddenly like the idea. Which is a start. So, could look to grind this out a bit further. No start-up costs, only a few hours work per day. Perfect if it can fly. No risk - just my time. Good business.

Yoga wise, I really think my attitude is transforming compared even to 2 months ago. I am trying to totally take any pressure off myself, while also sneaking around to a 4 or 5 practice week. Easy practice if I feel like it. I really notice my ability to observe aspects of what I am doing now without really changing them. A big shift and something I always wondered about. What would it feel like? It feels a like you are almost external to your actual body, clearly able to visualise yourself lying there, or watching the chest rise and fall as if it werent one's own. It's actually incredibly peaceful to do - like a mini break from life almost. This is a big help in terms of grappling with things like the fear and apprehension that sometimes arise before a difficult asana, or just one that keeps getting away from one, like headstand or the Lotus - which is still a way off for me. Fuck it - keep right on!