Making GOTV calls for Barack Obama

I spent this morning volunteering to make “get the vote out” phone calls for the Obama campaign.  Laura and I are living in Pittsburgh, PA this fall, so we feel the tension and excitement of being in a battleground state, something I didn’t get all those years in California.  I will admit to being nervous about making political phone calls — even though I have spent years making phone calls for a (non-political) good cause.   It made a big difference though to show up at the home of an Obama supporter where I was trained and where I drew encouragement from my fellow callers.    I wish I had managed to work up the courage to participate in phone banking earlier but it’s important to take those little steps.

Figuring out some basic investing advice: use value investing?

I’ve had two investment books out from the public library on my bookshelf for several weeks: The little book of common sense investing : the only way to guarantee your fair share of market returns and The little book of common sense investing : the only way to guarantee your fair share of market returns and am finally getting a bit of time to look at them. I’ve had a fair amount of my retirement money invested in a S&P 500 index fund — so I’m familiar with the notion of investing in an index fund. As Laura and I consider investing in BRK.B – Berkshire Hathaway Inc., Laura and I learning about Value investing, particularly its relationship to Warren Buffett, which is described in the following terms:

    However, the future distributions and the appropriate discount rate can only be assumptions. Warren Buffett has taken the value investing concept even further as his thinking has evolved to where for the last 25 years or so his focus has been on “finding an outstanding company at a sensible price” rather than generic companies at a bargain price.

I’m still trying to understand how to apply concepts such as P/E ratio to assess how good a buy Berkshire Hathaway is. Should I believe what Berkshire Hathaway Intrinsivaluator says?

Understanding the Issues: Now and Months from Now

This fall, I came to see how little I understood the major issues of the American federal election. I’d like to figure out a long term strategy for learning about the world and keeping informed about the relevant issues in politics. I compiled a lot of sources to use in following the election, but once the election is over, we’re going to be facing different short term challenges from those months before the election. I’ll come back to sort through my list a month or two from now once the dust settles a bit.

The turtle within: writing a little at a time

Earlier in the week, I came across an article that I’ve been mulling over the past couple of days. It goes a long way in addressing a problem that I’ve been facing: that of not being able to get started with big writing projects. If you have the same problem, I recommend reading and Tomorrow’s Professor Blog: How to Write Anything and following its recommendations. Here’s an excerpt:

    A much more effective strategy is to make a commitment to regularly devote short periods of time to major writing projects. Thirty minutes a day is plenty, or maybe an hour three times a week. One approach is to designate a fixed time period on specified days, preferably at a time of day when you’re at your peak, during which you close your door, ignore your phone, and do nothing but work on the project. Alternatively, you might take a few 10-15 minute breaks during the day-times when you would ordinarily check your email or surf the Web or play Sudoku-and use them to work on the project instead. Either way, when you start to write you’ll quickly remember where you left off last time and jump in with little wasted motion. When you’ve put in your budgeted time for the day, you can (and generally should) stop and go back to the rest of your life.