Sunday 23 January 2011


A list of the investments I make and some short notes on why. Obvious disclaimer: this does not constitute advice. Intended mostly for my own interest.

* 2011/01/11: iShares MSCI Emerging Markets, 8 units. Well, its Emerging Markets, innit? It am all de rage, though I'm a bit late on the bandwagon, but will do for the first of the year. * 2011/01/23: JPMorgan Germany Equity A Acc EUR, 8 units. Semi-whim: Economist article on Germany. They make things people want to buy and appear to be solid and competent. Intended as safe but unspectacular.

To come: China? India? Someone specific?


* End of year review: share portfolio * Note: 1 unit = a fixed amount, but I'm not telling you how much

Thursday 20 January 2011

Rowing and Running

Well, erging not rowing really.


Anyway, this is a graph of the PB's I can find for various distances, running and erging. Note that most of my ergs are for 30 mins, but I've only plotted one point there. I've only done one erg-a-thon, and I've only done one 3/4 marathon. So those points aren't well anchored. By contrast I have a good record for 5k, and quite a few 10k. Looking at the graph, it is clear I should be pushing my 10k harder.

And the pace version:



* Rowing and running * Rowing and running (again) * Boston marathon * Effect of Weight in Rowing

Tuesday 11 January 2011

Winter Head to Head

In which we come third IM3 (15:08), behind Hills Road (14:15) and Champs (14:48). Grr! Last spring we got 14:22. The ladies were in the same division, but we beat them: they got 18:40; the mixed VIII in div 4 got 18:14. Tom and Andy in the pair got 17:03 in div 4 (but adjusted for age and infirmity, 16:33), winning the pairs hurrah for them.

Here is our track, as measured by my GPS watch:


But before worrying about the numbers: how was it for you, darling? I thought we were solid, fairly workmanlike, but not at all inspired; we lacked zing and sparkle. Admittedly it isn't easy to sparkle on a cold grey winter morning, but still we need to try. So other than the hard-to-define pizzazz (an attractive combination of vitality and glamour), what was missing? In no very coherent order: a lack of length at finish but perhaps more at the catch; related to or caused by an inability to trust the balance well enough to reach properly around riggers at the catch (but also caused by some ugly leaning-away-from-riggers at the finish. Tut!). And hard to see but I think possible to feel: a failure to all pull together with the same strength at the same times (both time during the stroke and time during the race) which leads to relative motion of different blades which is inefficient.

Based on the (GPS track) the course is 1950 m not 2000 m as advertised. However, the same GPS track truncates our time, so more probably the course is indeed exactly 2000 m. Reading from the GPS track, our times were:

First leg: 7 mins (or a touch over, its difficult to time end points exactly). Second leg 7:38. Total 14:38.

Which is not the same as 15:08, indeed it is 30 secs adrift, which I'll count as 7.5 secs extra added to the start and end of each piece. So the adjusted times are 7:15 and 7:53, for 2000 m.

The first leg (red) is downstream and is clearly faster than the second (blue) upstream. The first ends at ~16 km/h i.e. 1:52 ish, but remember that is speed-over-ground not speed-over-water. The second bottoms at perhaps 15, i.e. 2:00, for an average of 1:56. Which would make the river speed... perhaps 0.5 km/h, which is... 1.8 m/s. In the plausible range, anyway, though that seems a touch high.

Top speed was 19.5 km/h (=1:32) off the start on leg 1, and 17.5 (=1:43) on leg 2. Which suggests the obvious: that we were more tired on leg 2, in which case my estimate of river speed is too high, as I suspected.

If you're not used to km/h and prefer splits (like me) here is a handy conversion table, possibly accurate:

19    1:34.7
18.5  1:37.3
18    1:40.0
17.5  1:42.9
17    1:45.9
16.5  1:49.1
16    1:52.5
15.5  1:56.1
15    2:00.0
14.5  2:04.1
14    2:08.6

First novice boat was 16:04, so had we thrown our Point out we would probably have won novice. However, a better option for winning things is to learn how to row better :-).


* Results * Spring H2H, 2010 * Winter H2H, 2010

Monday 3 January 2011

The voyage of the Dawn Treader

Today we went to see The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader which is (perhaps somewhat surprisingly) fairly faithful to the book. The film is in 3D which is a silly distraction: nothing is thereby gained. I took Miranda and her friend Kitty, who is her joint-best-friend, which often leads to problems when Miranda has to choose who to take somewhere: Kitty or Vivien? As it happens, V was out today or I would have taken all three.

The girls both enjoyed it, Kitty for the second time, and pronounced it as good as the first time. I too enjoyed it: it is simple and pleasant, good wins as you know it always will and no-one is cruel. The religious bit is very thin (Aslan at one point says "you will know me in your own world where I appear with a different name") and there is a teensy bit of comedy (when Caspian is bowled over by Ramandu's daughter, she offers to appear in a less distracting form, and he hastily says No!).

In some respects the film simplifies the book and is thereby less interesting (the slave traders on the Lone Island is very condensed; Deathwater Island is folded into the dragon's island) etc etc. The main gain is, I suppose, the exciting scene with the Sea Serpent, and the wave before Aslan's country is good. I spent some time trying to work out how real the ship was - it didn't really move through the water like a real sailing ship - but perhaps I was wasting my time: rather than being motorised it was more likely just CGI'd.

Sitting in the cinema for 2 hours was just what my body needed, since I'd just done my first 3/4 marathon from Coton, down the footpath, along the riverbank, and to Bottisham lock and back. A rather grey day and cold with it: my hands were chilly and I could have done with gloves. More, I could have done with some stronger legs: I was quite shattered by the end of it. For the first 21 k I kept the pace below 6:00; for the first 10 k, easily; for the second, with occasional lapses. Very slightly disappointingly my 1/2 marathon time was 2:03, but while I'd have liked to be under 2 the real purpose of this run wasn't speed, but distance. After that, the pace fell away somewhat: for the next 5, I held 7:00 (!) and after that I really didn't care, as long as I could just stop when it was all over. I ran with a water bottle (part of getting a cold hand) and left it where you cross the river in VIII's, at about 10 k, taking a little sip there; and so picked it up on the way back at about 21 k or whatever; I did need a drink at that point; and stopped at the Elizabeth way bridge to finish it. Probably I'd have been better off with an energy bar too or two: I was really very tired by the end. The other main problem was my calves, which hurt, but that was lesser. On the (very) plus side I finished; I didn't injure myself; my weight is back down to 73.1; and by now (the evening) I am up and about and moving if slightly slowly.


Book review: the Voyage of the Dawn Treader

Saturday 1 January 2011

End of year review: share portfolio

This is a wishy-washy look at a portion of my "share portfolio" as I might grandly call it. Obvious disclaimer: none of this amounts to financial advice, if you're dumb enough to take any of this as advice then you're responsible for any joy of doom you encounter. I say " a portion" because I'm omitting the boring stocks that didn't change in value much. And of course I'm not telling you how much I have of each.

Because I can't be bothered to track down the exact dates, the numbers quoted are % changes since I acquired them, not over the year, which would have been more interesting. At some point - perhaps next year - I really ought to do a value-weighted index, which would be far more interesting.

General comment: shares is up, by about 20%. I think that largely reflects the general rise in the market since the Dark Days of late 2008, rather than clever stock picking on my part. I asked for and received The Intelligent Investor for Christmas, so who knows where I'll be in a year.


* 3i Group Plc +79.61
* Aberdeen Emerging Markets +123.25 (emerging markets are good right now)
* Advanced Medical Solutions Group plc: +87.06 (a vague feeling that I should have more exposure to healthcare, since there is clearly dosh to be made from the unwell)
* BP Plc: +27.78 (see blog)
* Barclays plc: +72.86 (an intelligent acquisition during the depths of the crisis, when it became clear that they would not need govt bail-out money. In clear contrast to Lloyds Banking Group plc, -10.65, bought later, for stupid reasons: Barclays had already gone up so I didn't want to buy more. OTOH Lloyds Banking Group plc (9.75% Non-Cum Irrd Pref Shares) are +24.03)
* CSR Plc: +38.86 (not exciting as a percentage; but I work for them. Also a little while later the price zipped up; see for example here)
* Focus Solutions Group: +256.08 (can't remember why I bought these, a whim I think, but certainly a lucky guess)
* Greenko Group Plc: +132.83 (who are these people? And why did I buy them? I don't know: just luck)
* Invesco Perpetual Monthly Income Plus Accumulation Units: +55.76 (an attempt at a more sensible and safe investment, that worked)
* Stanley Gibbons Group plc +61.85 (a bit random. My father collected stamps and might have been pleased)


* Gas Turbine Efficiency -73.79 (one of several "green" investments that didn't pan out)
* Hansen Transmissions International NV -60.58 (and another)
* Iofina -70.73 (random punt that didn't come off)
* PV Crystalox Solar Plc -51.78 (another green turkey :-()
* Renewable Energy Holdings -58.64 (yet another)