Sunday, 29 April 2012

Current trading, sorting out he study and new thoughts on academic work

It has been some time since I have needed to write anything about trading.  The main reason for this is that we have hit a run of good results.  In the last 10 weeks, we have averaged around 1.5% per week and our daily work load has dropped considerably.  In fact, we didn't actually make a single trade last week but still made 3.5%, one of our best weeks ever. 

This has led to both Jerome and I pondering on how we might fill the time freed up.  Jerome has worked out how to keep an eye on our positions using an app on his smartphone.  He had also been looking at possibly doing a part-time degree at the Open University over the next five years.  When we were looking at this together the other day, I was particularly struck by the Open degree they run where you can basically study any courses you like from any department. 

I have only one work-related project at the moment - a detailed examination of Cottle's Option Trading: the hidden reality.  This is quite a complex book - the sort I really like - and does have quite a lot of relevance to us.  The main issue I am working on is an assessment of the point where open positions in the current expiry should be closed and acorresponding new positions opened in the next month to replace them.  This aims to avoid the situation in which we are left holding a series of options at their "locked down" minimum value as expiry approaches.  Instead, I would like to close out the positions and open new ones before lock down, in theory giving us safer positions in the second month and not having two week waits to realise the remaining value in the locked down positions. 

I have also been sorting out the far end of the study which, for the past 9 months or so, has been something of a dumping ground for books, post, newspaper cuttings, magazines, and so on.  Lurking somewhere underneath all this new stuff is the majority of the academic articles I kept from my MSc.  As I have slowly worked through this area, I have begun to think about the sort of work I could do from this material, with my favourite project being the biography idea I worked on a year or two ago.

It would appear that there are about 75 lever arch files of material in the study!  There are also various work-in-progress files which contain bibliographies, notes on articles, etc.  I feel I could set the following targets for the remainder of this year.  Firstly, I could complete the bibliography for the project, processing the couple of hundred items that don't feature in it so far.  Second, I could spend some time at the Science library in Oxford, reviewing the last couple of years journal articles.  I am particularly keen on recent issues of Journal for the History of Astronomy - indeed, I really should subscribe to this.

Thirdly, I could aim to read, in the remainder of the year, say, 12 books that are relevant to the project and, say, 100 articles.  I figure that once read, I could process 2 or 3 articles a day at best, so 100 should be easily manageable.  Finally, I could try and sketch out a rough structure for my project and begin to lock the bibliography into this structure.

So by the end of the year, day to day life could be based on a bit of trading work, my academic project and going fishing lots, which sounds good to me.

Thursday, 26 April 2012

Bad news within the family

After a few days of uncertainty, the news about my wife's brother is not good.  He had severe back pain earlier this week, had an MRI last week and a radioactive bone scan this Monday.  The results of that are back and the tentative diagnosis is cancer, the bone tests revealing the secondary symptoms of a primary illness, probably prostate cancer.  Tonight he is back at hospital for further tests.  So not good.

My brother died of cancer just before my eleventh birth (he was nine) and my father died of cancer six years ago.  I always suspect that I will die of cancer too and wonder every time I have a headache or some other possible symptom.  And it is noticeable that I still keep press cuttings of cancer stories, the most recent being the various articles on and reviews of Philip Gould's book.

All this is a prime example of how one's life can be turned upside down in an instance.  Not good.

Walking the Thames - Northmoor

After several days of heavy rain, it is just about bright enough today to tempt me out for a walk along the Thames.  Today's chosen route is from Bablock Hythe back to Northmoor Weir following the Thames Path.  Years ago I used to sometimes fish this stretch, when I think it was on the Newlands ticket (or some other club, not sure).  So a slight surprise when I started walking was the occurance of signs for Reading and District Angling Association.  When I was on their website somewhile back, I don't remember seeing this stretch mentioned.  But it would be very interesting if it was.

The other side of the river is owned by David Gow, who may be the "Farmer Gow" of Appleton, though that actually may be his sister.  We used to take Daughter to their farm to see the spring lambing when she was about 5.  Today the lambs are out in numbers in the fields and are charging round like lunatics as lambs do.  This far bank is quite overgrown with unpollarded willows along much of the stretch.  But this is a good thing for fishing, providing lots of cover.  It could be fished reasonably well from the Northmoor side though.

Northmoor weir is one of those old fashioned weirs based on lowering wooden slats down alongside groved wooden posts.  Some time ago, there was a plan to replace it with a modern automatic weir, but that plan seems to be on hold at the moment.  I had a brief chat with the lockkeeper at the weir and he said that in his 8 years of work there, he had only sold a handful of tickets to fish the right bank, but that such tickets were still in operation though the stretch being shared with another club. 

It is ages since I last fished a weirpool and I have Northmoor weir as a possible candidate for next season.  Today's weir configuration resulted in two main flows, left and right of centre, which produce a calm area between the two flows.  Were I fishing today, I would be ledgering in this calm area, on the edge of the fast water.  I have been watching more of the fishing videos set on the river Swale and noting the bolt rig methods he uses.  There was also an article some years ago on fishing at Burghfield weir on the Kennet which suggested something similar - so-called "codding" set ups with semi-bolt rigs, baitrunner reels, etc.  Northmoor weir might be a good spot to adopt such a tactic.

It rained quite hard on the walk back to Bablock Hythe but the wind was behind me and it wasn't unpleasant.  The river is up about a foot on recent levels and has quite a rich chocolate colour - the first time I've seen that for some while.

I called in at Barnes Lake on the way home.  This is a small trout fishery just down the road from where we live.  No one was fishing there today and the thought has occured that this could be the venue for a fishing video test.  So I have re-stocked with trout flies this afternoon - my usual early season order of daiwl bach nymphs, plus red, black and orange hoppers.  I rarely use any other type of flies.  Maybe I could go Monday or Tuesday next week?

And back home I confirmed that Reading DAA have taken a new lease on Northmoor after a year without it on the ticket.  I have been looking at some of their other waters - famous stretches like Upper and Lower Benyons on the Kennet - and I might well join them this year.  I suspect that the stretches I've just mentioned are very popular, but my fishing niche remains that I mainly fish during the week, so maybe they wouldn't be so busy then?

Wednesday, 25 April 2012

More discussions with Daughter

Daughter is working hard on her research about various things - the various academic courses she could do, the places she could travel to next, the possibilities for work in the future.  I am trying to keep up, so I can discuss things in something like a meaningful manner with her.

It would seem that the initial plan to study in the USA at Grad school is perhaps dropping away, mainly as the courses are all four years (plus) and lead to a doctorate - perhaps more academic than Daughter would like at this stage.  I have been re-reading the cartoon "PhD Comic" which does cast US Grad school in a slightly unflattering light.  The comic has been going over 10 years now and none of the participants have made much progress in that time - it is clearly adopting the pattern of the characters not aging as fast as time passes, rather than the "Doonesbury" real time approach.

Two typical cartoons, featuring the lovely Cecelia

So the current focus is on UK-based MScs and D-phils, and I was pleased to be able to send her one course plan that I'd found which she now thinks of as her favourite.

Another part of her plan is to possibly do a year of various travel trips, including possibly internships in various development realted projects.  I haven't read up much on this, but some do seem pretty good.  Of course my main issue is that will lead to her being away from the UK for extended periods but this is a consequence of having such a confident daughter.

Monday, 23 April 2012

Wonderfully absurd French Cinema

Jerome and I have been looking for the most bizarre examples we can find on youtube of French cinema from the 1960s.  My first choice was Phillipe Garrel's Le Lit de la vierge, especially the scene where the "hero" is wandering in the desert with Nico's The Falconer playing.  But later I am stunned to come across someone's posting of Garrel's silent "masterpiece" Le Revelateur combined with music by Sunn O))) (the Grimmrobe demos).  What a great idea!

Perhaps when I have posted lots of fishing videos on youtube, I will move onto movies like this - superb!

Sunday, 22 April 2012

Another Sunday morning on the river

Wife and I had spoken of regular trips to the river and nature reserve to see the development of spring, but the lure of extra sleep was too much this morning for someone.  But I made it out before 7:00 on what was actually a really nice morning - a brief gap in the recent rain.

Armed with another bag of bread crust, one aim was to see what might be tempted to rise this time.  In the first swim I tried, at least 10 pieces of crust were taken, but downstream, interest seemed to peter out and very few takes occured.  I haven't caught a chub on floating crust for about 20 years - that would make a good video later this year.

My goal at Chimney was to get some film of deer, but none appeared in the 90 minutes I was at the hide.  I did get a brief film of a blackcap in the hedge, plus a short clip of a moorhen leading 3 chicks along the stream.  A couple of sightings of deer, but too far away to film.  And then when I did get close to one, I accidentally switched the record function off and missed a decent few minutes of film.

Back by the river and an odd sight - 45 swans gather together at the bottom of the field, all feeding on the grass.  Quite rare that you see so many together.  This gave me an idea for another video clip of just them, so I shot about 20 minutes of them from a variety of view points, which might be interesting.

Further upstream again, I managed to get about 20 seconds of a heron sitting on a branch in the river, including a shot of it taking off.  Attempts to get a clip of ducks taking off have proved quite tricky, but I may have got a single clip of about 5 seconds.  I also attempted to film a kite in the air, but had difficulties keeping it in view and in focus.  Still not really sure how the auto-focus works.

So now I have enough film for about 3 more video projects.  Firstly, the various birds coming to our feeders in the garden.  Secondly, the swans.  Thirdly, the current Chimney Meadows film, though this needs more deer and perhaps another heron clip.   

Friday, 20 April 2012

Daughter's Birthday

Off to London for an evening out with Daughter to celebrate her 23rd birthday.  It was a rainy horrible day as we drove down, but we made it to Borough Market from Daughter's flat between showers and settled in for some lunch.  Too cold for hot dogs outside, so again I have missed out in this treat.

Dodging showers, we walked to Covent Garden where we were able to get Daughter the present she wanted - one of the new ipads from the Apple store. Then Wife and I settled into the Cross Keys pub, one of the pubs we used to go to when we first met and just round the corner from Wife's workplace at the time - which is now a Cath Kitson store.  The Cross Keys has some stuffed fish on display, but not as good as ones in the bar at the Swan on the Thames.

At Waterstones on Piccadilly, the heavens open and there is even thunder and lightning.  We were not sure about Daughter's timing for the evening but in the end she finishes around 6:00.  Our first port of call was then Fortnum and Masons where she buys herself a little box of mixed chocolates, and then it is off to the first floor cafe for drinks and ice creams. 

Then to the bar at Quaglinos but just for a drink this year.  Finally to Le Caprice for tonight's meal.  Just as we got there, there was a slight wobble as Daughter seemed tired and a bit overwhelmed by the busy restaurant, but that soon passed and we actually ended up having a really nice meal.  We all tried different things to what we might usually have, and it was all very good. 

Tara Palmer Tomkinson was there but I resisted the temptation to go over and make small talk.  That said, she looked prettier in person than she does in the press I thought.

Wednesday, 18 April 2012

My second video project - chub taking floating crust.

Last time at the river, my attempts to film chub taking floating crust rather failed.  I managed to get just one take on camera and that was 30 yards down the river and barely visible.  But a second trip has produced over 20 takes caught on camera, a sign perhaps that I am beginning to think more about video recording and am getting better at it.

The most surprising set of takes occured in the second glide on the stretch, just downstream from one of the spots that I have floatfished for chub.  I have never fished this spot but it produced a dozen takes of which I managed to film six or seven, including one really big, splashy rise at the downstream end of the swim.  So this spot will definitely be added to my fishing plans for the start of the season.

On a couple of occasions I was able to see the fish concerned and they looked a nice size.  One was certainly over 4lbs.  My best ever chub caught on crust was something like 3-08 from the Cherwell years ago, so this is a target that I have a good chance of beating next season.  And one fish that I was able to watch closely for 10 minutes or so, resolutely refused to rise to a piece of crust despite something like 30 pieces passing over its head.  Still, much of this bread then became the free samples in the next swim down and were taken there instead.

It took me a day or two more to edit the video - I am not very good at this at all yet and will be putting much more thought into this going forward.  But it has turned out ok, and I was especially pleased with the captions I used this time.

A rather extreme chub take from my video

Monday, 16 April 2012

More practice video - feeding chub

Another video testing day, this time mainly about comparing the two tripods I now have. I suspected that the heavier, but taller tripod would turn out to be best afterall, but a decent test was worth doing to confirm this. So off to the river again.

But this time I have a couple of slices of bread crust and one aim would be to see whether I could attract and film some chub taking the crust off the surface. I felt my best chance would be a relatively shallow glide which is slowly filling up with lilies as spring rolls on. So sighting the camera at the head of the run, I threw a dozen or so pieces of crust across the river and lo and behold, several pieces were taken. The photo below shows a few pieces of crust over to the left of the view, while the chub that took the bread were all down by the raft on the right hand side.

I followed the crust downstream about another 100 yards and one or two more pieces were taken, but I managed to film none of the them well. What I did discover is that it is better to move the camera as little as possible while tracking the crust, and also that a tiny piece of crust is quite hard to find using the little viewing screen. Focusing is not easy either.

One chub was actually seen - one about 3 lbs which had a very good look at a piece of crust as I was watching. Maybe tomorrow, armed with more bread, I will get some better video.

Sunday, 15 April 2012

Daughter is back from Peru - more new plans

An early morning trip to Heathrow to meet Daughter who has red-eyed it back from Ecuador at the end of her latest travel adventure.  It has been apparent from emails during the trip, that this has been a very thought provoking experience for her and she has a whole list of things that she wants to talk about this morning and which will form the basis for lots of thinking over the next few weeks, indeed months.

First up, is her view that she doesn't want to stay too much longer in her current job.  Instead, she wants to return to University, porbably in the USA, and do a further degree in economics.  Secondly, she wants to travel much more, perhaps in a much more independent manner rather than on organised trips.  She has Cambodia, Thailand and Vietnam highlighted as her next big trip.  Apparently one of the people she was most impressed by on the trip was a girl from Denmark who was travelling indepently for some months round South America.  And thirdly, there is the issue of what work she'd like to do in the future now she has decided that perhaps management consultancy isn't her long term choice. 

Our journey home is filled with Daughter's ideas.  No doubt these will change substantially as more work is done, but I am pleased she is thinking about such things and I definitely approve of her broad approach for the next few years.

Thursday, 12 April 2012

My first video upload to Youtube

After a few days studying some notes on how to work Movie Maker, I have produced my first video for Youtube, 8-55 of wildlife footage shot at Chimney Meadows over the last few weeks. I am actually rather pleased with this, especially the footage of the two mallards and the coot and moorhen. This is a practice for when I try and shoot some fishing videos later this year.
The first of many I hope.

Wednesday, 11 April 2012

Another Liz Harris (Grouper) show in London

I have continued to regularly look for more Youtube videos of Liz Harris performing. I had assumed that these might be shows from the current "Velvel Replacement" tour, but much to my surprise, two videos have appeared from recent shows in London that were not actually VR shows but were regular sets of tracks from the recent album. I would have loved to have seen this show but didn't know it was occuring. Nonetheless, I am delighted that the shows have gone out on Youtube

The venue - Cafe OTO in London - is now getting quite a reputation as an avant garde music venue. Kaiji Haino performed there quite recently - I bet that was an intense show. I was the 2nd and 3rd views of these videos. Very impressed by the audio quality and have listened to the show twice already

Sunday, 8 April 2012

More filming at Chimney Meadows

Early Sunday morning and a trip along the river to Chimney Meadows with the video camera - the main aim being to test out a travel tripod I have bought as an alternative to the trusty but heavy tripod I have had since I was 16.

I am the only one about at this time as one might expect and before 7:00 I am settled in the hide that Wife and I visited the other week. Over the next couple of hours I shot film of two muntjac deer, some mallards, a coot and a moorhen, and a roe deer. No heron this time, and the roe deer film was very distant. But the footage was reasonable and the tripod seemed to work ok.

The other test I wanted to do was of various fishing spots to assess ease of filming there. This showed up some problems as the tripod is quite low and is unable to fit in much of the river. At times I will need the camera to be at about 5 to 6 feet high and the travel tripod is barely half that. So perhaps I will end up having to carry the older one.

Next task is to work out how to use the basic editing programme I have on the PC. I will put together a 10 minute extract from what I shot today and post it on Youtube, hopefully by the end of this week.

The first of what I hope will be many nice videos over the next few years.

Daughter's travel difficulties

A phone call that all parents dread when their daughter is travelling far away. Daughter would like to speak to me - not her mum - urgently. I take a deep breath as I wonder if she has been arrested.

But it turns out that she thinks she has a missing flight from her travel itinerary. The other people she is travelling with have an air flight voucher for Lima to Quito, Emma doesn't. It is late on Good Friday when she calls and I can't speak to her travel agent, but I do find someone at LAN airways. He gives us some advice, and confirms that the flight does still have some seats left on it. A bit of pondering suggests it would be better to buy her one of these tickets rather than wonder whether she actually does have a ticket, but not the voucher. Otherwise she might be stuck in Lima and miss the last part of her trip.

So I end up spending £575 on this flight for her. She will argue for compensation from her travel agent when she gets back, as the flight would have been less than half this price if she had booked it last November with the other flights.

But at least she hasn't been arrested.

Friday, 6 April 2012

The Royal banners forward go

Many years ago - early 1988 to be precise - I had glandular fever and was forced to have a couple of months off work. At times I was actually very ill, but at other times I really rather enjoyed having the time off. It was just after we had moved to our first flat and I had decorating to do, and our wedding was only a few months away.

I took to listening to Radio 3 for a couple of hours each day. This was where I first heard Arvo Part for instance. I also read 6 volumes of Jung's Collected Works during this period - the four Alchemy works, Symbols of Transformation and Psychology and Religion. And I heard a choral evensong with one of the most beautiful hymns in it that I had ever heard, "The Royal banners forward go". Somewhere in the garage is the cassette recording I made of this. If I could find it, it would be worth setting up my cassette deck linked to the PC to digitize it.

Last week, on a download site that sometimes features choral evensong, there was a recording from Southwark Cathedral that featured the same hymn. I have wanted to hear this again for years, but was actually quite disappointed by the version. The version from 1988 had been a deeply spiritual sound, the newer one was quite ordinary I thought.

Maybe when I am next hunting through boxes in the garage . . . . .

Wednesday, 4 April 2012

Day out at Chimney Meadows & a fishy pub

Wife is not working for the next few days and we decided that today would be our "wildlife" day for Easter, with a trip to Chimney Meadows, the local nature reserve. Over the past few months, I have seen loads of interesting wildlife down there while fishing - my hope was that Wife would also get to see some today.

As it was, we were in luck. On the walk down there were loads of birds around which we were just about able to pick out in the trees. We saw a hare close up, which we startled as we rounded a corner and entered the field it was in, plus lots of ducks and swans as usual. By Shifford lock we spotted the three female roe deer which I have seen loads of times over the past few months. At the time, I thought this was a shame as I'd have liked us to have made it to the bird hide before they had appeared, but soon after we got to the hide, two other deer, probably males appeared and were happy to feed for the next twenty minutes in the open space. I had brought my video camera with me (but don't yet have the travel tripod) and did take about 10 minutes of film of them. Later a heron flew in and settled quite near us and I got some decent film of that too. Over the next couple of days, I will use this footage to learn how to edit film and how to post to youtube.

We then drove on to Burford and then back round to Faringdon by the scenic route that took us past the Swan Hotel at Radcot. We stopped here for a drink and I was delighted to find that it had a bar with loads of stuffed fish in it - a pike of 15lbs, two cases of bream (around 5lbs each fish), two trout of up to 7lbs, a perch of 2 1/2lbs, two cases of chub (5-07 and 4-10) and a barbel of 8-02. All caught locally as well and dating from about 1950 to 1962. I wonder how much a cased barbel costs.
One of the stuffed chub from the fishy bar.

Tuesday, 3 April 2012

Brian Clarke's Angling piece in The Times

Monday's Times has a thoughtful article by Brian Clarke on whether success at fishing is a matter of luck. It focuses on Neill Stephen's recent capture of a 9-05 chub and the preparations that went into this. The essential economy - economy of action. Pretty much all the effort goes into preparation. The cast itself is no random event. Clarke contrasts Stpehen's approach, where fishing has to take a back seat to the normal pressures of life, with those anglers who are said to "bore" fish into the net by fishing days and nights at a time.

I was reminded of a famous Dick Walker set of principles which were mentioned in something Tony Miles wrote recently. There are five such principles, and all successful captures involves compliance with them.

1. Location. The fish must exist in the venue and you must fish for them where they are in that venue.

2. You mustn't scare the fish

3. Your technique must fool the fish and, once hooked, enable you to land it.

4. You must fish when the fish are feeding

5. You must use a bait they will accept.

A successful catch means you have fulfilled each of these. But a failure can be down to any one (or all five). And there are dozens of ways in which each point can fail. Most anglers are principally concerned with rigs and bait - factors 3 and 5. Location is mainly sorted out by fishing commercial fisheries. Factor 2 is usually ignored by adopting a bait and wait approach (where the initial disturbance is inevitable but just sat through). Factor 4 is met by being there all the time and using bite alarms.

It is for these reasons that I don't fish commercial fisheries.