Sunday, July 24, 2005

Red Hairy Thing

Originally uploaded by Jepster.
It looks like something that will crawl away when left alone but this red hairy round object is actually a fruit called rambutan. It tastes quite nice (very sweet and juicy). It's apparently in season again since I saw a lot of streetside fruit vendors selling it on my way home last friday. There are canned ones available but it's best eaten fresh and properly ripe. *yum*

I couldn't afford a decent macro lens for my camera so I bought this macro filter. This picture is one of the first few shots I tested it with.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Morbid thoughts

When we reported for work last Monday morning, employees at the 2nd floor noticed a foul smell emanating from the office pantry. They initially dismissed it as "stale" air since the central air-conditioning system conked out the entire week before and it was scheduled to be commissioned after it has been repaired over the weekend. Instead of dissipating however, the odor became more intolerable. The person who went up to investigate could not stand the stench and he was vomiting violently when he came back out. The smell was like that of a rotting carcass. Something is dead and decaying in the air ducts! Then I remembered that one of my colleagues was supposed to have a week long vacation starting that day. The last time we saw him was last Friday. How sure are we that he *really* went to vacation. What if he was murdered and chopped up to itty-bitty pieces and dumped into the exhaust ducts. Well, it turns out that the odor was coming from a dead bird that got sucked in by the ventilation system. It was located too high to be removed easily so the building administration opted for a temporary solution for the mean time. They sealed out the affected ducts totally isolating it from the other exhausts. They just used sheets of plastic and duct tape. I'm glad that's all sorted out now.

BUT what if the bird died from a highly contagious form of avian flu that can infect humans. What if it's in the air we are breathing right now. What if...

I think I'm watching too much CSI.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

I raised B$12 Million! I'm rich woohoo!

Well not really. I should say "I'm virtually rich" to be more accurate. By using the word "virtually" I do not mean the classic dictionary definition of "almost, but not quite" or "practically" or "nearly". I mean "virtual" as in "simulated" or as used in the internet "virtual worlds". I don't think I'm doing a great job explaining this so I better start from the beginning.

Have you noticed an icon at the bottom right side of my blog that says "Listed Blogshares"? Well, that's because I joined this virtual stock market simulation at It's kinda like fantasy football but with a wall street twist. You are given B$500 (that's read as 500 blogshares dollars) and you are free to invest this virtual money in "stocks". The "companies" from which these stock shares are issued are actually blogs. Blogs are valued in terms of the number of links going out and the links going in (or the number of sites that has this blog for a link). Share prices are influenced by how the shares are being traded among other things. Sometimes stock prices crash and that's something you don't want particularly if you invested all your B$ to that single blog. If you own a blog and it's listed in the blogshares stock exchange, then you automatically get 1000 shares of that stock (out of 5000, the rest is publicly listed and could be bought and sold by everybody else). As proof that it's really your blog and to redeem the 1000 shares, you are required to place this icon in your blog's main page. It's a great way to discover interesting blogs and at the same time play the stockmarket (or something close to it) without really investing real money just your time.

The site was first created in 2003 by some guy with a lot of spare time and has since become the most popular and immersive online stock market simulation to date. He was interested in creating a social networking experience that ties weblogs with a stockmarket style of trading wherein you can buy shares of blogs that interest you or speculate on the future popularity of a blog (the more popular the more other bloggers will link that site and the more incoming links the higher the valuation). He also wanted to test the validity of the power law theory in this simulated environment. One of the key concepts in that theory state that 20% of the population will control 80% of the wealth. Cool huh?

I started playing last November 2004 and I have made my B$500 grow into B$12,332,788.57. I'm only a casual player doing transactions at an average of about twice per week. My overall rank is currently 2863 and although it doesn't look like much I'm very proud of it since the number of players are over 15,000. Not bad huh. The game also tracks down your percentage increase/decrease compared to the previous month.

My first big break was when I bought a lot of shares from the thepinkbunny blog and for some strange reason a lot of other higher ranked players began buying shares like hotcakes! The price of the shares I own skyrocketed and then it was just a matter of selling when it's high and buying when it's low. The share price for that one blog eventually crashed but I got rid of it a long time ago. One thing I learned is to watch out for the P/E ratio. That's the relative price per valuation defined as [(shares x price) / valuation]. If this ratio goes beyond the market tolerance threshold, better bail out. It means that the stocks are too overpriced compared to their actual valuation.

Hey, why don't you give it a try? It's fun and not so time consuming. And it's nice to imagine what you will do if you actually had that kind of money *sigh*