Wednesday, September 28, 2011

To Speculate or Not to Speculate, that is the question ...

According to, Speculate means "to engage in any business transaction involving considerable risk or the chance of large gains."  So typically, speculation has been associated with Wall Street traders and other evil doers.  However, most people are engaged in speculation in one way or another.

Anyone who has bought stock or any commodity expecting the item to increase in price has engaged in speculation.  I have a couple thousand baseball, football, and hockey trading cards that I hope one day will be worth more than I paid for them.  That is a business transaction with hopefully the chance of a large gain.  But I don't hear anyone complaining about all those kids sitting on their trading cards waiting for the price to go up.

Finally, as we have seen by the "collapse" of the housing market, people buying a house are engaging in a transaction involving considerable risk.  I'd say that losing your house and damaging your credit is a considerable risk.  Again, most people don't think of a house that way (for various reasons) nor do you see anyone railing against people for taking such a risk with their finances and ultimately our economy. 

Instead, people are railing against "Wall Street" for taking these risks and trying to make "speculation" into a four-letter word.  When in fact, many more people speculate much more often than they think and it isn't always a bad thing.  At least that's what I tell my better half now that I've got an out of the way place to keep my baseball cards.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Aging and Declining Options

At what point in life do the number of options available to us start to decrease?  I suppose that you could say that options just change, some new, some lost.  However, the older that I get, it seems that my options seem to go away.

I started wondering about this a couple weeks ago.  I've been having trouble with my knees since hurting them both playing basketball in college.  I started playing basketball again about 5 years ago after taking a couple decades off.  Once starting, I realized that I had to lose weight as I was hurting every part of my body each week.  So I took a year off, lost some weight, started basketball again.

Having lost weight, I was better off, but it wasn't until I started working out a few times a week that I became able to play a full basketball game and still walk the next day.  But then golf season started.  So I was playing golf on the weekends, working out during the week, and playing basketball once a week during the week.  Then came the fateful weekend that I played four golf days in a row.  On the fourth day, I tweaked the stronger knee (go figure).

So for the last couple of months, I've had to wear braces on my knees to play golf and stopped playing basketball.  I also stopped working out for a while until my knees were no longer swollen.  One of my favorite workouts was cycling, as last year I decided to try to start competing.  So my cycling training was stopped and I wasn't able to compete either.

So it appears that I have to come to the realization that competing in cycling is unlikely and I should give up playing basketball again.  That being the case, I started wondering what options did I have.  I used to train and teach karate, but that was also hard on the knees.  Baseball, softball, and running don't seem like reasonable activities to take up and I used to play organized tennis, so I know that's probably out.

I then started to realize that my option of being a professional athlete probably ended in my late teens or at least in my early twenties.  So doors were closing as early at that.  But surely, as I received my degrees about that time, doors opened that were closed before.  So maybe things were equal then.

When I was a child, surely options were open, but mostly looking forward to the future not so much at the time.  I could take piano lessons, play baseball, for example, so I still had a number of options.  While learning a foreign language is easier the younger you are, that option seems to stay open for quite a while.  Of course, their options on driving or other adult activities is limited (legally anyway).

It still seems that at some point, more options are going away than are presenting themselves.  I'm sure that attitude has a lot to do with perceptions too though.