Monday, December 22, 2008

"New Words"

Mikel and I were lucky enough to get to see this year's Mormon Tabernacle Choir Christmas concert.  There are few things that make Christmas feel as special.  This year's concert featured Brian Stokes Mitchell (Tony winner and Broadway star) and Edward K. Herrmann (actor a la Gilmore Girls).

The whole experience helps to ring in Christmas.  Getting to walk through the snow, window shopping through the Gateway and seeing the buzz of the city.  The lights at Temple Square are some of the best and most festive in the world and the conference center is always an amazing venue to be at--the beautiful concert hall, always a full house, being there with 21,000 people celebrating Christmas.

Mitchell was a fantastic performer--certainly a little quirky at times--but his singing was amazing.  The only song I knew him to have performed was "Through Heaven's Eyes" from the Prince of Egypt.

Though an amazing song my favorites that he performed were Bach's "Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring" where he did a lot of very high range vocal instrumentals and then my very favorite, a song I had never heard before, "New Words".

The song is written by Maury Yeston, and after hearing his original version of it think Mitchell's arrangement to be much better.  The song is a lullaby from father to a young son as he learns his new words.  I would think the song would be beautiful in mosts opinion but being a new father myself certainly brought a lot of sentiment to the song.

I have searched all over the web for a clip of the song to no avail, but I have included the original lyrics below (which Mitchell changed for his arrangement but still close).

Look up there high above us
In a sky of blackest silk
See how round, like a cookie
See how white, as white as milk
Call it the "moon" my son
Say "moon"
Sounds like your spoon, my son
Can you say it?
New word today
Say "moon"

Near the moon brightly turning
See the shining sparks of light
Each one new, each one burning
Through the darkness of the night
We call them "stars" my son
Say "stars"
That one is "Mars," my son
Can you say it?
New word today
Say "stars"

As they blink all around us
Playing starry-eyed games
Who would think it astounds us
Simply naming their names?

Turn your eyes from the skies now
Turn around and look at me
There's a light in my eyes now
And a word for what you see
We call it "love" my son
Say "love"
So hard to say my son
It gets harder
New words today
We'll learn to say
Learn "moon,"
Learn "stars,"
Learn "love."  

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Where I Beat the Market by 51.94% (since March)

Before the markets got too fishy I decided to commit a sum of money to a market I had long been paying attention to--P2P lending

I researched the prominent sites--Prosper, LendingClub, and Zopa.  Back in March  there were fewer sites than now. 

I decided that I would commit equal sums to both Prosper and LendingClub to try the experience and see what I liked, disliked, and where I got the better return. 

Here is how I have done since March. Prosper: 22.68% APY with 0 defaults. LendingClub 12.78% APY with 4 loans late on their payments. If all 4 loans default, my eventual APY will be something to the tune of -8%. 

LendingClub has two things going for it: 
  1. Currently they are the only SEC approved P2P site 
  2. The minimum loan denomination is only $25 making it easier to diversify your portfolio with a smaller sum of money (the min amount is $50 with Prosper).  

However, these benefits don't outweigh what Prosper has going for it: 
  1. Transparency with the community.  On Prosper, it is easy to sort by lenders that already have personal friends, or borrower groups, invested in that person. This means that a network of personal and close associates have incentives to keep the lender from defaulting on the loan. This helps keep ROI up and defaults low.
  2. Prosper has an auction system rather than pre-determined rates-of-return like lendingclub.  This allows you to find "deals" or expected rates-of-return above the market rate due to inefficiencies with the market.  

I am now very interested in learning about YadYap, the first P2P payday loan site, and, a P2P site for startup financing.

Not Always What it Seems

Check out this cool post by Web Urbanist of architectural optical illusions.

A teaser: