Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Craigslist experiment

I love Craigslist, which is to say that I think Craigslist is a cesspool for cheats, swindlers and complete trash...and that's just on the sell-side.

On the buy-side, you are presented with some true winners. You could list a $100 bill on Craigslist and still have idiots that will offer you $50. This is what I like to call the "Craigslist Principle" where whatever you list the item for will almost immediately get a reply for 1/2 the listing price and the subsequent offers won't be all that higher, if at all.

Before our move last year, I listed a couch with a 3" tear in it (easily fixable by someone that knows what they are doing) for $200 knowing I'd never get that but would be happy with $150. The couch was 3-years old and I paid somewhere around $1000 for it; the tear be damned, it was in fantastic condition. I had a woman call me and offer $75 and I had to deliver it to her and she wanted to drive from Irvine to look at it before she bought it....cuz ya know, $75 is a lot to pay for a couch you've only seen 4 pictures of online. After 2 weeks on CL, I ended up donating the couch to Salvation Army and sadly, a great deal of my decision to donate the couch was to spite all the a-holes that were waiting for me to list it in the free section.

Prior to that move, I listed another couch for $100; an Ikea hide-a-bed in very good condition that retailed for $450 new @ Ikea. I was offered $50 and had to deliver it to them. I settled for $75 and when the guy showed up to take it I had to listen to him bitch and moan about how it was in worse condition and offered to only pay me $50 to which I replied that I could get a bigger tax write-off for it and I could give a rats ass if he just walked away and wasted the $10 in gas it cost him to drive in a giant truck from Anaheim. He took it, much to my surprise.

Another guy offered to buy a $600 mountain bike for $150 then called me the day he was supposed to come and told me that $125 would be "like everything I own" and that I should consider $100 to help him out. Yeah, F off you cheap ass hippie...

I could go on and on with stories of the cheapest bastards and smarmiest behavior you'll ever come across, but I won't. Instead, I'm going begin what I hope will be regular feature of this blog: selling sh*t on Craigslist.

OK, so here's the setup...

The Item(s):
7 Burger King Transformers game pieces (non-voided winners) for the following 7 menu items, with menu price before tax:
  • 2x Whopper $2.79
  • 1x Whopper Jr. $1.00
  • 2x Cheeseburger $0.89
  • 1x Apple Pie (unknown)
  • 1x French Toast Sticks (unknown)
Listing Price: For trade or $5, if someone wants to pay me

Expected Settlement Price: $0 and a completely useless item, which I will inevitably involve in a future CL listing

Some questions I know you all have...

What kind of trades?
Other non-beef BK items or anything people will want to trade for the coupons.

Will you break the items up?
Absolutely! If you're not really a beef person I'd be glad to just part with the apple pie and french toast sticks.

Why not just list them in the "free" section?
That's too easy; that's what the Craigslist trollers would be expecting. The real fun begins as all the cheap bastards come out of the woodwork and I get 10 emails in an hour for people asking me to give to to them for free or offering up some (hopefully) truly ridiculous items.

What are you hoping to get from this experiment?
My real hope is that I get offers right off the bat for a trade or pleas for me to just "help them out" and give them the 5 burgers for free, which I of course will not do. But really, I'm just trying to have some fun and get some entertainment value out of it; far more than the value I'd get by exchanging the coupons for fast food burgers.

I will, of course, be chronicling the entire ordeal including any and all correspondence with Craigslisters. Their anonymity will be protected at all costs for it would be a shame for others to know they are trolling CL for hamburgers.

This may end up being a bust and the savvy CL folks will see through my ruse or maybe they have higher standards now and won't wheel and deal for burgers. Either way, I don't really care; it's time I gave back to the CL community for all the times they've provided me with more entertainment value than what these burgers are worth.

More to come, gang...

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

The importance of sticking to a plan

Note: This blog has transformed from a purely entertainment-oriented blog into a place for me to share aspects of my life that others may find boring, stupid or otherwise TMI for your taste. Part of my life that I'm trying to chronicle and share with others as an exercise in getting things off my chest and airing them to the world, possibly in a call for help or even just encouragement, is my newly found passion and career change: trading. So here's your first 100% trading post...hope you enjoy...if you're still reading...

So, I trade futures. I must spend 12-14 hours a day either trading or working on my setups, back-testing, coding strategies for the software I trade with and so forth. The point of all this time spent working on strategies and such? You create battle plans while not on the battlefield, then execute them when you go back out. Sounds simple, right? Wrong.

There's this disconnect from what you planned outside of the market and the execution of that plan while in the market and it is truly the most difficult aspect of trading. If not done properly, you can lose a lot of money really fast.

See, as a trader you look at yourself as a casino. You have an edge and over a large enough # of outcomes your edge will payoff, how much depends on how great you edge is. Well, the difficulty comes when you're trading a plan and you only trade 25% of the potential trades...and that's where I'm stuck: if you don't trade EVERY setup you're not going to properly execute the plan and realize the profits your edge should be yielding. Through fear, confusion and an assumption that you know what's going to happen, the execution of your plan is sabotaged by the very person who created it. I'm 100% convinced that the ONLY thing standing in the way of my becoming a successful trader is Bryan Mills.

How do you get around it? Well, you just sort of have to close your eyes and jump off the cliff, knowing that the parachute you packed is going to work. You eliminate yourself from the equation as much as humanly possible and basically become an emotionless, non-judgemental robot that reacts with no hesitation and complete faith in a system. The most difficult thing about that is knowing that you will fail some of the time and that failure is a requirement for success. How crazy is that? In order to succeed, you need to fail...and the human mind is quite incapable of easily grasping that concept, without some serious re-programming, or at least to the extent that I push it. I mean, there are certain days where I may only be 55% successful, yet turn a nice profit. Imagine if you coded software and 55% of the time the programs you coded worked...or making necklaces only 55% of the time that didn't fall apart...you get the idea.

Right now I feel like an addict going through rehab. I'm having to abandon the desire/need to be right and to be successful 100% of the time, and it's tough, but I can't achieve the level of success I want without letting go of the desire to be right.

So, that's where I am. Am I happy about it? Hell no! Is it something that gets better with each trade? You bet! It just takes practice and consistency and those are things that are a daily goal, no matter how difficult it may be...