March 30 Siliiness

Dear Lord,

So for today, God; I’ve done all right. I haven’t gossiped, haven’t lost my temper, haven’t been greedy, grumpy, nasty, selfish, or even indulgent.

I’m very thankful for that – But in a very short time, God, I’m going to get out of bed, and from that moment on I’m going to need a lot of help!

Amen

 

As a new bride, Aunt Edna moved into the small home on her husband’s ranch near Snowflake. She put a shoe box on a shelf in her closet and asked her husband never to touch it.

For fifty years Uncle Jack left the box alone, until Aunt Edna was old and dying. One day when he was putting their affairs in order, he found the box again and thought it might hold something important.

Opening it, he found two doilies and $82,500 in cash. He took the box to her and asked about the contents. “My mother gave me that box the day we married,” she explained.

“She told me to make a doily to help ease my frustrations every time I got mad at you.”

Uncle Jack was very touched that in 50 years she’d only been mad at him twice.

“What’s the $82,500 for?” he asked.

“Oh, that’s the money I made selling the doilies.”

 

Any change works for a maximum of three holes . . . or at a minimum of not at all.

No matter how bad you are playing, it is always possible to play worse.

Never try to keep more than 300 separate thoughts in your mind during your swing.

When your shot has to carry over a water hazard, you can either hit one more club or two more balls.

If you’re afraid a full shot might reach the green while the foursome ahead of you is still putting out, you have two options: you can immediately shank a lay-up or you can wait until the green is clear and top a ball halfway there.

The less skilled the player, the more likely he is to share his ideas about the golf swing.

The inevitable result of any golf lesson is the instant elimination of the one critical unconscious motion that allowed you to compensate for all of your many other errors.

 

Occupational Hymns

The Dentist’s Hymn………….Crown Him With Many Crowns
The Weatherman’s Hymn……….There Shall Be Showers of Blessing
The Contractor’s Hymn……….The Church’s One Foundation
The Tailor’s Hymn…………..Holy, Holy, Holy
The Golfer’s Hymn…………..There is A Green Hill Far Away
The Politician’s Hymn……….Standing on the Promises
The Optometrist’s Hymn………Open My Eyes That I Might See
The IRS Agent’s Hymn………..I Surrender All
The Gossip’s Hymn…………..Pass It On
The Electrician’s Hymn………Send the Light
The Shopper’s Hymn………….Sweet By and By
The Realtor’s Hymn………I’ve Got A Mansion Just Over the Hilltop

 

Their five-year-old son went to a church conference with my buddy & his wife. The kid got restless, so his wife handed him a pad and pencil and suggested he mark down every time the speaker said the word “and.” After a while, he grew bored, and my buddy asked, “Would you like to listen for a different word?”

“Yes,” the kid whispered. “I’d like to listen for ‘Amen’.”

 

A passenger jet was suffering through a severe thunderstorm. As the passengers were being bounced around by the turbulence a young woman turned to a minister sitting next to her and with a nervous laugh asks, “Reverend, you’re a man of God, can’t you do something about this storm?”

To which he replies, “Lady, I’m in sales, not management.”

 

An evangelist had a great revival camp going. One night he was up in front of a large audience, speaking on imperfection. He asked his audience towards the end, “Has anyone ever known anyone who has come CLOSE to the perfection of our lord, Jesus Christ?” Nobody, of course raised their hand. So he issued the question again. “Anybody! Has ANYONE ever known that kind of perfection?” 

Finally a guy in the back raised his hand, so of course he was asked to stand up. “Tell us. Tell us who you knew who was so close to perfection.”

The man responded, “My wife’s first husband.”

 

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Time is All I Got

ImageToday Kevin said that EA “could never become mainstream.”  I was thinking about that a bit.  I get that EA is not likely to get to a Facebook or Twitter size, but I think that growth is necessary to make EA interesting and useful.  Today EA seems like a small town complete with village gossip and cliques.  I would suspect that more folks would allow some more natural grouping of folks with similar interests and tastes.  I know more folks would increase the reach and impact of EA.

I know that Dups has said the small number of participants does not worry him while they are ramping up the service.  My concern has less to do with the number of new signups (decent marketing can fix that) and more to do with the scary retention (more reasonably lack of retention) numbers.  The tiny size of the community creates overreaction to changes.  The tiny size creates waves of destruction when important players alter their relationship to the game.  A bigger base of players would make the game more fun and more stable.

Anyone who plays EA for long at all understands why folks quit.  I often hear EA described as a huge time sink.  Just keeping up with the Social Media activity that EA demands is exhausting.  The actual time on EA investing, engaging, and trying to understand is a full time job.  The loss of the game’s best time saver, insideEAv, was a shock that will be tough to survive.  I am not sure that EA will be able to increase its retention without reducing the time demands to play successfully.

I am not sure of the solution to this issue.  Dom suggested a weekly day off in a thread that I read.  I wonder about reducing the number of social media networks scored from 5 to 3 to reduce the pressure.  EA certainly needs to improve the UX to make accessing & acting on information quicker and easier.  Perhaps a closer integration with Avenue.io will help that.

Are you bothered by how much of your life EA requires?  Do you have any ideas to reduce the demands?  Is EA condemned to be a minor game played by folks with too much time on their hands?

 

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Giggles

ImageI realize there are a bunch of different reasons why folks play Empire Avenue.  Many use EA as a platform to boost their business.  A few are looking to expand their contacts. Some use it to promote a favorite cause.  Others of us are pretty clueless about why we are here.  I believe that almost everyone here would like to have some fun.  

Personally I wish the EA management would help us out with this, but they seem to be too distracted at this time.  I could see contests, drawings, team competitions, and all sorts of foolishness sponsored by EA to lighten the current mood.  Perhaps a funny blog post or two…tales from Rudiger the squirrel like this FB post from a few years ago: https://www.facebook.com/EmpireAvenue/posts/144913805527463

Unfortunately that does not seem to be in the cards.  I wonder if we in the EA community can step into this breach.  I have seen some missions that were very kind.  I have seen some FB posts in groups that attempted to encourage and galvanize the Avenue.  I know some of the leader board folks have discussed sponsoring a contest or two using their own eaves for prizes.  The Zen vs. X-Bar contests predate me, but I wonder about something along those lines.  Perhaps the Paused versus the Unrelenting Positives is more appropriate these days.

I don’t really have any answers these days.  Just had a moment to engage in idle speculation waiting for my next Mai-Tai to be delivered to my undisclosed vacation location.  Have a great time wandering down the Avenue!

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Confusion Reigns

ImageAlthough I am on EA vacation, I have cruised by the Avenue a few times just to be sure it is still there.  A response from Dups during all the stuff caught my eye.

“I’m on specific record saying that the Empire Avenue Actions is a completely broken number that is basically filtering on a database table that we barely use, but to remove would cause people to say we are (yet again) evil, and are in the process of fixing based on all the other things we are doing. Once that is done then exporting that information (being a correct piece of information) is the right thing to do.” Dups  http://www.empireavenue.com/community/page/discuss?c=3426

On the one hand I really do appreciate his effort to explain some of the difficulties he faces with modifying and maintaining his site.  On the other hand, this seems so wrong.  If EA can’t track activity accurately on their own site, how are they calculating an accurate Network Score for EA?  If they can’t accurately track/score my activity on their own site, what implications does that have for the accuracy of scores for any other site?

Don’t get me wrong.  I sort of love the current EA scoring; since I am close to the top of the Leader Board there.  In fact, that is the only board where I ever sat on top.  I even appreciate the desire to hide a bit of the network scoring algorithm; so ‘those people’ don’t try to manipulate the system too much.  I don’t feel good about questionable data.

I am really bothered that this problem seems endemic.  Another example from Dups is the problem with presenting dividend data.  That information was removed from the portfolio/shareholder views because it was wrong.  Although removing it was a reasonable triage step, months later why isn’t it fixed?  If the dividend data is wrong in one place on the site, my tummy gets a little queasy when I think about how that might impact other parts of the EA calculations.  Why doesn’t this make the EA priority list?  A number of folks continue to ask, and the info is clearly important for investment decisions.  

A number of folks have struggled to understand what we can see of the EA data.  The more I dig, the more confused I get.  Since Dups often explains how much he depends on the data, I hope they are able to reign in these anomalies soon.  I sure that everything will be perfect when I return from vacation.  Y’all have fun now!

 

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Me, Myself, & I

ImageI care a lot about EA and even more about the folks that I have met through EA.  Given the current state of the Avenue,  I should probably follow that quickly with the assertion that I don’t plan to quit.  I do feel the need to step back a bit to assess my relationship to EA, & the current changes.  To that end (& also because my divs were insane yesterday…2.31…yes thanks for the applause), I put my account on vacation mode for a few weeks.  Also tennis beckons with the US Open and cooler weather in Htown.

My head hurts trying to imagine dealing with my portfolio without inisideEAv.  Lots of folks are delisting their accounts.  Many others say they will just become inactive.  Since these are some of the most engaged EA’ers ( over 50% of stock trading happened with insideEAv), I worry about the consequences.  Dups assertion that it wasn’t his fault rings shallow and offers nothing by way of a solution.  

We all hear the massive frustration of the community.  The loss of fun, the drive to monetization, the cloudy vision, and failure to provide real tools have created a perfect storm that will be difficult to navigate.  I have some time & energy invested; so I hope there is some amazing & delightful resolution just around the corner.  I worry the gap between the promise and the reality continues to widen.

I will put my tips on hiatus during my EA vacation.  Dups has said the EA official mentoring program is ready; so you might inquire with him about getting help there.  Although I asked to join that official effort, I did not receive the courtesy of a reply.  That does leave me a bit puzzled, but I am certain that they have a substantial team of very well qualified folks ready to go.  Again I encourage you to check with Dups for details on the official EA mentoring program.

I will still be around.  I intend to continue working my blog; although with a bit less EA focus.  If you have EA questions, my blog has all my tips archived there.   I will still be present across most of my Social channels, but I look forward to finding my own voice a bit more; rather that just being a mission bot.

Crap!  This really does sound sad.  I am just headed out to play a bit more tennis and hang with my friends IRL.  I earnestly encourage you to give that a try.  In the immortal words of California’s greatest Guvernator…I’ll be back! 

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Pie Seventeen

download (1)Well I suspect that several of you experienced a nice share price bump that might have surprised you a bit. Last night EA introduced Pie 17. They introduced an interesting wrinkle by not providing an eaves purchase. You must spend 25 USD to buy Pie 17.

Most of you are probably still working the Pie upgrade path; so the impact will be later. I guess this confirms that EA really is no longer free if you really want to compete. I didn’t buy it yet; partly for game reasons. I have to save some eaves to buy with if I am doing it. I was trying to get over the idea of buying a portfolio upgrade. For me, fifty bucks is like my part of a couple of happy hours with my buddies.

I worry that some folks who feel that paying is in some way cheating may decide to leave the Avenue. I get that EA needs to earn revenue, but I wonder if this is the best time to ratchet that up. Seems the mood on the Avenue is a bit down, and I am concerned adding a ‘requirement’ to pay is not likely to attract or retain new folks. Perhaps there are some new features or benefits just around the corner. I sure hope so…

What are you thinking about all this?

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Reading Tea Leaves

downloadI got an interesting question from Adrian and was doing a bit of thinking. He asked:

Not sure how much there is to say but my curiosity is how they are going to get the business accounts fully functional? Like a lot of small business owners, I have a personal profile online as well as that of my company. EAv now have business accounts but you can’t link to things such as FB, G+ and LinkedIn pages as you first need to link to a profile which, of course, is already in use.

Dups, for reasons I can’t discern, makes it tough to understand the future direction of Empire Avenue. When he is pressed, he sends folks to EA’s Corporate Page: http://corp.empireavenue.com/ I have read this enough times to be certain that I am completely clueless about what it actually means and puzzled why he won’t share a clear vision. I end up believing that actions are generally better predictors of the future than promises; so here are my wild speculations.

Specifically Adrian, I believe that the difficulty of creating a personal versus a business presence on EA relates to the fact that the site is more organically grown rather than working some development plan. Dups has admitted as much when he talks about getting away from his original vision. EA just keeps getting surprised and struggles to react.

EA has removed several of the ‘game’ aspects of the site with an effort to streamline and make it more business friendly. Premium Accounts provide eaves to minimize the need for companies to spend time investing. To everyone that I talk with, EA has become significantly less fun. Efforts to engage the EA staff about this issue have been fruitless. I think Dups thinks there isn’t any money in the game of EA.

That leads me to believe that EA is trying to become a business tool instead of a game. I see a couple of problems that stand in the way. The user community of EA is tiny. Kevin provided some interesting numbers to verify this recently.  With such a small number of folks entering & even fewer staying around, EA is just not that interesting to most businesses. The other issue is targeting. Trying to find and mobilize EA’ers that fit your niche is almost impossible; unless you are in the MLM game. I worry that the high level of sketchiness in the EA community might be off putting to businesses also. Despite EA’s assertions, I don’t find much evidence that “the most respected social media profiles and companies from around the world” gather here. To be a truly effective tool EA must quickly gather a critical mass; both in quality and quantity.

Back to Adrian’s quandary, I think the issue of connecting networks to accounts is problematic; because of folks who game the system by moving networks between their various accounts. That behavior makes it tough to have a great solution for folks with legitimate needs. I suspect that as EA continues to deprecate the stock market part of their site, the issue of networks connected to accounts becomes less important.

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Out with the Bad

ImageI got asked about when to sell stocks on Empire Avenue yesterday.  Not surprisingly, I have a few thoughts about this.  As usual, your approach will vary according to what you are trying to accomplish on the Avenue.

I know that some of the experienced players will want you to know that they never sell.  That is an awesome ideal, but most of us have limitations with eaves and portfolio slots.  At some point, most players find a situation where they have to sell in order to buy something or someone.

First we might want to think about the folks that we should not sell.  Don’t sell someone who is actively playing and invested in you because they are likely to sell you in return.  That is a lose/lose strategy for you both in general.  Don’t sell folks who have dividends of over 0.31 (e) per share because they are in the the top 5,000 players on the Avenue.  That is important to remember if you are trying to increase your daily income from dividends. 

So who to sell becomes the question.  I generally sell stocks that are inactive, not invested, and have low (0.25 or less) divs.  When I bump up against my portfolio limit, I sell more aggressively.  You can check activity on the stock’s profile page, by clicking the stock on your portfolio view, or through any of the third party portfolio management tools.

I also sell miscreants.  That includes folks who steal my or my friends’ missions.  I also sell folks who sell me.  I sell folks who are rude or abusive.  Life is too short to deal with them.  Folks in this category also get blocked; so I don’t invest in them later unintentionally.

I am less concerned about selling folks with falling share prices.  Generally the cost of commission is greater than what I might lose in value.  Even relatively inactive folks tend to hold their price with surprising strength.  Often the inactivity is temporary; so the buy/sell would be a net loss.

Trying to daily churn your portfolio to buy the very best ROI, dividend production, or share price rise is a losing proposition.  On the margins, the wild swings are impossible to accurately time.  Buy good profiles preferably of folks you like.  Have fun and watch your portfolio grow.

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Looking for Light

IImage have been thinking about what tell you today, and I have to admit that I am starting to run out of ideas. I have covered all most all of the functional parts of the site. I have shared a bit of philosophy and a few tips that helped me. I have shared a few frustrations and tribulations about the site and a few of the players. I guess I am to the point of needing a bit of help.

Do you have any ideas or suggestions for me to discuss? Is there something you wonder about or wish for with EA? 

I have a feature that I really expected to come with Premium Accounts. I expected that Premium accounts would have the ability to schedule missions. That would be easy to do, greatly desired, and be quite helpful.

I also think that EA is missing an opportunity by not implementing a mission undo. Almost everyone has taken a mission that went sideways. Sometimes the mission creator was tricky, and sometimes the mission taker is less than alert.

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Resources

ImageGerrit Bes provides a couple of buy lists each day here:http://wp.me/2odZ1 Early morning (3-5 CDT), he looks at all the Fresh Faces that joined and recommends those he thinks will have success. Later in the day, he provides a list of new players who have passed 7 days with divs over 0.30 (e); so you can invest to your Pie limit.

Paul Steinbrueck provides a daily list of new starters with divs over 0.15(e) each morning after the turn: http://wp.me/p1PyIN-11f

I follow a few FB groups to keep up with the latest gossip:
Team Zen: https://www.facebook.com/groups/teamzen/
[X]Bar: https://www.facebook.com/groups/XBARMESSAGE/
SocialEmpire https://www.facebook.com/groups/socialempire/

The EA General Community Discussion is a great place where you can share your bricks and bouquets with the EA staff:http://www.empireavenue.com/community/page/discuss?c=3426

I am less plugged into the Google Plus EA communities. I probably ought to fix that.

I use a couple of portfolio management tools:
https://dr-dittrich.de/eav/eav.pl
https://www.avenue.io/

Do you have any favorite resources that you would like to share?

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