Video of the Twitter (NYSE:TWTR) Opening From The Trading Floor

I took this video footage of the moment Twitter began trading on the floor of the NYSE. This was taken at Post 8 and it captures that moment when the Founders and CEO realized the American Dream

Sorry, But First Born Children Are Smarter

Ok, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to showcase this article posted on SF Gate, given that I happen to be the oldest child in my family. Now, we have more research to back up the long held belief that first born children are in fact smarter than their siblings.

From SF Gate:

Numerous studies have found that first-born children tend to be more intelligent, ambitious, conscientious, confident, successful…and the list of superlative adjectives goes on.

A new study once again finds that these “golden” older children have higher IQs, perform better in school and are all-around more accomplished than their younger siblings (according to their parents). The researchers took this study one step further and looked into why first-born’s are smarter and uncovered a simple answer: Parents tend to be tougher on their oldest child. Moms and dads are more involved in their first-born’s schoolwork, more likely to punish him for getting bad grades and more likely to establish a set of strict rules that must be followed.

In a paper titled “Strategic Parenting, Birth Order and School Performance,” economists Joseph Hotz and Juan Pantano write:

Fueled by new evidence, there has been renewed interest about the effects of birth order on human capital accumulation. The underlying causal mechanisms for such effects remain unsettled. We consider a model in which parents impose more stringent disciplinary environments in response to their earlier-born children’s poor performance in school in order to deter such outcomes for their later-born offspring. We provide robust empirical evidence that school performance of children in the NLSY-C declines with birth order as does the stringency of their parents’ disciplinary restrictions. And, when asked how they will respond if a child brought home bad grades, parents state that they would be less likely to punish their later-born children. Taken together, these patterns are consistent with a reputation model of strategic parenting.

Read the entire article here

My Journey From Wall Street To Afghanistan…Part 5

My First Week On The Job

My crew in the early days

The team a few weeks after my arrival in Afghanistan

It was well into the night by the time I arrived at my new home. Our Camp was located on the outskirts of Kabul in a stand-alone, five acre compound surrounded by twenty-foot walls and towers manned by local Afghan security guards. This Camp looked and felt like a prison. Don’t get me wrong, this place was truly a Taj Majal compared to nearly all of the other Camps/Bases in Afghanistan. We had the normal amenities that most US installations have such as a gym, a MWR (morale,welfare,recreation) room, barber, PX and probably the best gym in all of Afghanistan. The Camp was clean and we were fortunate to live in hardened structures with hallways and bathrooms indoors. For most of you reading this post, you would have wanted out during the first day, but for those of us in the military, this wasn’t so bad.

The first night I arrived, I was wiped out. The adrenaline high of finally getting to my destination had worn off. I unloaded my bags in a temporary barracks room and was given a brief tour of the Camp by the Senior Enlisted NCO of our department. He was one of my favorites, a solid active-duty Senior Master Sergeant in the Air Force, who turned out to be one of the finest NCOs I’ve ever worked with. He became a trusted confidant who helped me get through some of my most difficult days. Senior showed me the ropes, introduced me to my new bosses and made sure I got enough sleep that first night. I woke up late into the morning the following day. Showered up, got dressed, grab my weapons and tried to remember how to get back to my new workspace. I was the new guy and so it took a few days to sort things out. It didn’t take long to fit in with the existing crew. I guess you can say that my personality allows me to quickly make friends wherever I go. The first few days were just a blur, but I did get a chance to formally introduce myself to the team and tell them a little about my background during a staff meeting. I knew that my background on Wall Street and education credentials would raise a few eyebrows. This crew was made up of almost all active-duty types and having a Reservist show up was bad enough and to add a guy from Wall Street, well that was a problem. I knew that I needed to break the ice and let my new brothers in arms know that I wasn’t some stuffy “suit” and that I had a sense of humor and didn’t take myself too seriously. In order to pull this off, I decided to share a funny story about myself from my last deployment. My new CO, an Army Lieutenant Colonel, would require the new guy to tell the group a funny story about himself at his first staff meeting. It was my turn and I threw out my Kuwait K-Y Gel story.

Master Chief Clark and I in Kuwait City, 2006.

Master Chief Clark and I in Kuwait City, 2006.

During my last deployment while in Kuwait, I developed a case of hemorrhoids. I know, you’re probably thinking TMI, but stick with me. This condition was not uncommon in the desert given the dry conditions. I was having this problem and I confided to my Master Chief.  A Navy Master Chief Petty Officer is an E-9, meaning that he holds the highest enlisted rank. A Master Chief is treated like a God. I went to Master Chief Clark, who back home was a long time New York cop from Long Island. He was a big, white, 6-4 tall, fifty something year old. He had a thick NY accent and in his own style, he told me to go to the PX and buy some Preparation H, then go to the Head (bathroom) and stick that tube up my backside and squeeze. Who was I to challenge the wise Master Chief. I did what every Junior Officer is supposed to do in that circumstance, I followed his advice. I stuck that thing up my backside and wanted to scream! It only made matters worse. I told the Master Chief about this new development and he asked, “Well did you lubricate it?” I told him “hell no, how did I know that I was supposed to lubricate the tip”. He then said ” okay, go to the barracks and up above my rack, there’s a care package box that my cop buddies back home sent me filled with lots of K-Y gel as a gag,  just grab a tub and go back and repeat using the K-Y”. Well, stupid me, I went back and did as he suggested. I followed the instructions and the next thing I know, I’M ON FIRE DOWN THERE. I looked down at the tube of K-Y and it turned out it was the “Warming Sensation K-Y”, needless to say I found the Master Chief who by this time was rolling on the floor. I couldn’t help but laugh as well. This was the “funny” story I shared with my new family in Afghanistan. The reaction was funny in and by itself. At first there was silence, then laughter. They didn’t know what to make of me, but one thing was sure, I was quickly accepted into the family.

As for Master Chief Steve Clark who I grew to respect and admire seven-years earlier in Kuwait, he died of cancer unexpectedly a few years ago. He left a wife and two teenage kids behind. I never had a chance to ever see or talk to my good friend, but the memories I have of him will stay with me the rest of my days.

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Video of Neighborhood Near My Camp In Afghanistan

This a video of the neighborhood surrounding my Camp in Kabul, Afghanistan. I shot this footage while on a typical weekly convoy. I posted this on my Facebook page while deployed. I wanted to give my friends and family a sense of what my surroundings looked like every time I went outside the wire. It helps remind me of how poor and dangerous life is like in Kabul. This area is located on the outskirts of Kabul. For OPSEC reasons I can’t disclose the actual location. Despite our problems in the United States, it sure make you appreciate the good ol’ USA.

Go Back to College..For Your Kid’s Sake

628x471From the time we were youngsters in grade school we were told, stay in school, get good grades and go to college. For many Americans, that’s just an obvious thing to do. Especially if your parents are college educated. Unfortunately, for many minorities, that’s not so obvious and the fact is that if your parents didn’t graduate from college or worse yet high school, the odds are stacked against you. So if you’re reading this and you don’t have a college education, what should you do? You’ve probably convinced yourself that it’s too late to go back to school. You might have just accepted your fate in life as God’s will or that you’re just not the studying type. If that’s you read on. I hope that you reconsider your decision not to pursue higher education. I want you to understand that no matter how old you are, it’s not too late. The decision to go back to school shouldn’t be about you, but it should be about your kids and I’ll show you why!

3 Reasons Why You Should Go Back To School:

  • Self Confidence. I wasn’t a very good student growing up. My grades were just average at best and often just downright terrible. I wasn’t a dummy, quite the contrary. From the time I learned how to read, I enjoyed books. I love to read. I’ve always considered myself to be “well-read” and as a result, some would say that I was always intellectually curious. You see, I was simply bored with school. I never had the desire or interest in studying subjects that did not interest me. That was my problem and it wasn’t until later on in life that I went back and finished my degree. I went to Cal Poly Pomona right after high school but wasn’t truly prepared and dropped out after my freshmen year. This was a result of many things, including being a product of the Oakland public school system and not having parents who understood what it took to create a home environment that promoted higher education. I knew I was as smart and as intelligent as my college educated friends, but it wasn’t until I actually finished that I was able to fully develop the confidence in knowing that I belonged to that club of college educated Americans and even rarer club of college educated Latinos. Roughly 18% of Latinos and African Americans hold Bachelor’s degrees and only 2.5% hold Master’s degrees or higher.I eventually completed my undergraduate degree and went on to earn two graduate degrees. Finishing your degree is an accomplishment that will be hard to top. It will give you a sense of pride and confidence that will carry on to other aspects of your life.
  • Earning Power. According to a Georgetown University report, the average high school graduate will earn just $1,300,000 over a 40 year work life, someone with a Bachelor’s degree will earn approximately $2,270,000 while those with master’s, doctoral, and professional degrees earn $2.67 million, $3.25 million, and $3.65 million, respectively. Of course, these numbers are nationwide averages and vary based on many different factors including the cost of living in the area in which you live and also the field of study, but you get the point. If you’re able to graduate from a Top 10 business school like Harvard, Columbia or Berkeley, the first year median salaryfor newly minted MBA’s is approximately $140,000-165,000 including bonuses. These numbers just illustrate the need to complete your education. Our economy has changed from a manufacturing to a service based economy. The blue-collar labor or support jobs that existed  a couple of decades ago are long gone and aren’t coming back. In order to compete, you need a degree. The unemployment rates for college graduates is still pretty impressive.
  • Your Future Generations. Lastly, nothing you do will have a greater impact on the lives of your children and grand-children, then completing your college education. I love hearing success stories of first generation college graduates. It’s far more impressive to be able to say you’re the first in your family to graduate from college because it’s incredibly difficult to beat the odds and accomplish such a feat. I think the national debate about college admissions is off the mark. It’s one thing to admit more minorities, but the problem isn’t admission but lack of persistence and completion. Far fewer finish college due to so many institutionalized barriers such as money, poor academic preparation, lack of parental support and motivation. Persistence is the key ingredient and if you have doubts about being persistent enough to go back and finish, think about your future generations. According to data from the National Education Longitudinal Study, less than half (47%) of students whose parents did not go to college, enrolled in any level of higher education the year after graduating from high school, compared to 85% of students whose parents had college degrees. The take away is that when you become a college graduate, the impact on your kids will be enormous. Truly life changing! Your kids will grow up in a home where higher education will be expected and encouraged. A healthy pro-education environment will be created for your kids by sheer instinct. If you go back as an adult and finish, your kids will witness first hand what it takes to succeed in school by seeing you practice healthy study habits, dedication and discipline. More than anything else, you will have single handily closed the achievement gap and moved your family into a higher rung on the socioeconomic ladder. In other words, it’ll be like George Jefferson moving on up to the Upper East Side!

Happy 238th Birthday United States Navy

On October 13, 1775, the Continental Congress voted to outfit two sailing vessels carrying ten guns and eighty sailors and send them on a three-month cruise to search for munitions ships carrying supplies to British soldiers in America. At the height of the war, the Navy grew to fifty vessels and twenty warships. After the War, the Navy sold the ships. When the Constitution was ratified it empowered Congress “to provide and maintain a Navy”.

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Oakland Coliseum Pride…The Video Bud Selig Wouldn’t Allow

From the San Jose Mercury:

As the A’s and Tigers prepare for a climactic Game 5 at the Oakland Coliseum on Thursday night, it’s worth watching what the team and Major League Baseball apparently didn’t want you to see.

That would be: magical Oakland A’s moments in Oakland. (See video)

Legendary PA announcer Roy Steele, better known as “The Voice of God” for how he brought thunder with his vocal chords, was apparently enlisted to stroll down memory lane to get fans pumped for the team’s second straight trip to the playoffs. It appeared on the web briefly last week, but then disappeared.

It reappeared this week on YouTube with the poster claiming it was intended to be shown in-stadium at A’s playoff games, but was yanked by Commissioner Bud Selig

The New York Stock Exchange…The Early Days

new-york-stock-exchange-nyse-nyc-rattiIt’s not everyday that you get to work for two iconic American institutions at the same time, but I’m honored to be able to say, I do. Not only do I serve as a Lieutenant Commander in the United States Navy Reserves, but I also work for that institution located at the corner of Wall and Broad Streets called the New York Stock Exchange. Everybody is familiar with the NYSE and most Americans have an idea about what takes place in that building, but very few know the history behind the NYSE. It played an important role in helping the newly formed United States develop into a powerful nation and continues to this day to serve as the center of American finance and capitalism.

On May 17, 1792, twenty-four stockbrokers gathered outside 68 Wall Street under a buttonwood tree to sign an agreement that would establish the rules for buying and selling bonds and shares of companies. The Buttonwood Agreement, as it is known, is so named because the tree served as the regular meeting place for these pioneers of Wall Street. The signers of the Buttonwood Agreement drafted their first constitution on March 8th, 1817, and named their newly formed organization the New York Stock & Exchange Board.

BrightHorizonsTFIn 1863, this name was changed to its current form, the New York Stock Exchange, which became known as the NYSE. Until the NYSE went both electronic and public (NYSE:NYX) in April 2006, the exchange was a membership-only organization. You could only join the NYSE by purchasing existing seats, which were limited to a total of 1,366. This changed when the company went public and all of its members received stock in exchange for their membership. Today, the NYSE is located at 18 Broad Street in a building which was opened in 1903. A building which all Americans are familiar with and a building that has come to represent Wall Street. Today, the NYSE trades over 2,300 listed stocks representing nearly $17 trillion in market cap, more than the next five largest global exchanges combined. It is the home to 90% of the Dow Jones Industrial stocks and 83% of the S&P 500 companies and $150 billion in stock trades hands everyday on the trading floor. In 2007, the NYSE bought Euronext and as a result, owns and operates the Paris, Lisbon, Amsterdam and Brussels Stock Exchanges along with the London LIFFE.

You’re probably wondering how did the Bell come into play? In the early days a gavel was used to open and close the market. We still use a gavel to close the market, but in the late 1800s a gong was introduced. When the NYSE moved into its current home in 1903, the gong was replaced by a Bell which is located up on the  bell podium and is used to this day to open and close the market. Ringing the Bell is an honor that is extended to captains of industry, presidents, prime ministers, royalty, athletes, movie stars and war heroes. It’s an event that is covered by thirty-seven global news networks that have a live presence in the building and its said that nearly 160 million people around the world view the Opening and Closing Bells everyday.

Introducing The New $100 Bill

The Federal Reserve today introduced into circulation the new $100 bill. This is the first major redesign for the world’s most circulated paper currency in 17 years. It’s actually a pretty cool looking high-tech design featuring five new security features. One little factoid that I wasn’t aware of is that the $100 bill represents nearly 80% of outstanding currency. That means there are lots of Benjamin’s floating out there around the world.

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In order to make sure you’re not getting jacked with counterfeits, be aware of the following new features:

  • Blue security ribbon that runs through the bill that shows either Liberty Bells or 100 when tilted
  • A bell that changes colors between copper and green depending on perspective
  • Raised printing when you rub the texture above Ben Franklin’s shoulder
  • Microprinting around his collar
  • Redesigned back that now features the back of Independence Hall

Words of Wisdom From Chief Tecumseh

Tecumseh02This poem is one of my all time favorites. Incredible words of wisdom from the heroic Shawnee Chief Tecumseh spoken many years ago. It most recently was quoted at the end of the movie Act of Valor. A film which chronicled the heroic acts of the Navy Seals.

“So live your life that the fear of death can never enter your heart. Trouble no one about their religion;respect others in their view, and demand that they respect yours. Love your life, perfect your life, beautify all things in your life. Seek to make your life long and its purpose in the service of your people. Prepare a noble death song for the day when you go over the great divide.

Always give a word or a sign of salute when meeting or passing a friend, even a stranger, when in a lonely place. Show respect to all people and grovel to none.

When you arise in the morning give thanks for the food and for the joy of living. If you see no reason for giving thanks, the fault lies only in yourself. Abuse no one and no thing, for abuse turns the wise ones to fools and robs the spirit of its vision.

When it comes your time to die, be not like those whose hearts are filled with the fear of death, so that when their time comes they weep and pray for a little more time to live their lives over again in a different way. Sing your death song and die like a hero going home. ” – Tecumseh

 

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