Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Newspapers, Murder, and Bears! Oh My! - Mystery Book Review

Award-winning mystery writer, Brad Parks, returns with his third book, The Girl Next Door, featuring amateur sleuth and newspaper reporter, Carter Ross.
Nancy Marino was forty-two-years-old and single. She waitressed at the State Street Grill, delivered Bloomfield, New Jersey's Eagle-Examiner early mornings; and was a shop steward for the International Federation of Information Workers (IFIW), Local 117.
On a hot, Friday morning in July, a speeding Cadillac Escalade struck and killed her while delivering her papers. The driver disappeared onto the Garden State Parkway; confident he committed an untraceable crime.
Who killed Nancy Marino and why?
Enter Carter Ross, an eight-year veteran news reporter for the Eagle-Examiner. Reading Marino's obituary, he decides to memorialize a fellow newspaper employee, even though he'd never met her. He plans to write a story portraying Marino as an ordinary person, who spent her life serving others, and, whose contributions to society went unnoticed until her passing. Attending her funeral, he learns that her death is being investigated as a homicide, which ignites his inquiring mind.
Ross is an unpretentious thirty-two-year-old. Educated at Amherst College, he lives in a two-bedroom, ranch-style house with his black-and-white, domestic, shorthaired cat, Deadline. He ubiquitously dresses in Khakis and button-down shirts; and drives a five-year-old Chevy Malibu.
Many people are aware of the anemic state of print newspapers, given today's digital age. Longtime community newspapers have either downsized considerably, both in content and staff, or folded.
Parks weaves these challenging industry times into the book's plot. During the halcyon days of the newspaper in the late nineties, the Eagle-Examiner signed its thousand-plus carriers to an unprecedented twenty-year contract, which included great wages. Now, given the industry's tough times, the newspaper wants concessions; and the Union isn't yielding.
As the IFIW shop steward, could Nancy Marino have been murdered to silence her opposition to contract negotiations?
Tina Thompson is Ross's editor. In her late thirties and single, she's expressed interest in Ross purely from a "chromosomal" perspective. Determined to experience motherhood, she's suggested Ross become her sperm donor-nothing more.
Parks has a talent for infusing humor throughout his mystery narratives. A bear is on the loose in Newark and Thompson assigns Ross the story. It's mainly done to delineate their professional roles, reminding him that despite their mutual sexual attraction, she calls the shots. Given his career experience, he balks at the task. She prevails.
Kevin "Lunky" Lungford is one of the newspaper's underutilized interns. At six foot five and 275 pounds, his hulk-like appearance easily conveys stupidity. While inept in the newsroom, Ross is taken aback by Lunky's appreciation for literature, reading the works of Emerson, Roth and Thoreau. Ross befriends Lunky, asking him to accompany him on his bear chase story, which proves comical.
Tommy Hernandez is the Eagle-Examiner's Newark City Hall beat writer. He's "as gay as taffeta and chintz, " and an impeccable dresser. Despite his constant chiding of Ross for his lack of sartorial eloquence, Ross respects him as a fine young reporter. Hernandez plays Robin to Ross's Batman when solving crimes. Jibes about their sexual orientation differences are humorous.
Well-written fiction reflects reality and Parks conveys it throughout his story. Ross discusses his observation of human behavior everywhere, "from the meanest housing project to the gilded symphony hall." He says, "And what always strikes me is that when you strip away the superficial differences in clothing, setting, and dialect, groups of people everywhere are more or less the same. We all have our pretenses. We all posture to a certain degree. But, ultimately, most of us are just trying to find a way to fit in."
Anyone with Newark, New Jersey ties will appreciate Parks's area references, including the New Jersey Performing Arts Center (NJPAC), Newark Beth Israel Medical Center, and the well-to-do communities of Glen Ridge and Montclair.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Many Benefits Of Using Twitter In Your Business

Many companies use Twitter to retain current customers and recruit new, not knowing that there are many other opportunities in using this form of social media. In fact twitter wins over Facebook as it is estimated that 56% of people who follow a brand on twitter are likely to buy as opposed to 47% for Facebook Twitter is also regarded as the first choice as regards sharing referrals about a new product or service on the market. Studies have found that while users who give a "Like" on Facebook, do so in order to get discounts and gifts, Twitter users are more likely to use the platform to receive news, information and "updates" about future products of the brand or the company's upcoming projects.
Twitter is also a very valuable research tool as companies can join groups related to their business and gain valuable information in this way. As for finding prospects, many senior decision makers have twitter accounts. Followerwonk is a good place to start looking for people as you can search bios. Here again you can use twitter to actually ask your followers a number of key marketing questions. What are they looking for in a certain product or service? How do they rate your product or service in the marketplace? Where do they look for products and service on the internet?
Again keywords are as important here as they are in any form of internet search. It is useful to start looking at the Google keyword tool to find high search numbers and then use these keywords in you twitter search.
Twitter is an excellent way to build your personal brand. The constant communication to your followers of interesting, educational and informative information helps build strong trust based relationships.
Twitter is an ideal vehicle for running special offers or promotions. Many companies offer discount coupons to their followers. Followers are interested in anything that is new, that saves or makes them money, or is entertaining. Many retail food stores, bakeries, coffee shops and restaurants have found that "tweeting" their latest offering to their customers can bring a flood of customers.
Twitter is also an excellent way of seeing what your competitors are doing because the social network is free and companies rarely protect their tweets, you can read them without any problem and inform you of what they are doing.
As the social network is free and companies rarely protect their tweets, you can read them without any problem and inform you of what they are doing. Add to the list, experts, leaders and indirect competitors.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Fascinating Facts About Bee Pollen

There are many fascinating facts about bee pollen, especially now that it is in the news. The main concerns are that bees are ingesting toxins from polluted plants due to manufacturing or GM farming. There are worries that the microbes from GM farming can get anywhere and everywhere and the health risks are unpredictable to say the least.
In Tanzania, in the Manyoni district, the authorities have decided to introduce demonstration farms. The idea is that farmers can move from producing tobacco crops to other cash crops, simply because the bees will no longer be attracted to the tobacco flowers which, of course, contain nicotine.
The authorities there want to encourage the production of the purest possible bee pollen and honey. They are therefore illustrating on the demo farms how plants like millet, sunflowers, cotton and sesame are much more profitable and also help the bees produce the best quality bee products.
Although only about 25% of Tanzania's honey is exported to European countries, the beekeepers are anxious that the quality of the bee products is preserved, They are also educating farmers on the benefits of preserving the wild vegetation on their lands so that the bees can have enough nectar and flower pollen to help with the production of honey.
But the actual composition of the pollen provides some more facts about bee pollen. There is a rich supply of all the B vitamins which is why it can give us so much energy. Combine that with the astonishing amount of enzymes, amino acids, other vitamins and you can see why it is called nature's perfect food.
Another fascinating fact is that this substance has been used for centuries by many ancient civilisations from China to Egypt to ancient Rome. They all praised the qualities of the bee pollen and the honey to the skies and they were well aware of the great boost it gave them. In ancient Rome it was considered as a sort of food for the gods and a common household greeting was:- "Here is honey and pollen, provided by the gods, to protect your health". Just one of the fascinating facts about bee pollen from the ancient world.
If you happen to consume locally produced bee pollen, you may well find that you can get relief from your seasonal allergies. If you start taking the local pollen a few weeks beforehand, it acts as a sort of immunization and will provide you with some relief.
Today, the uses of bee pollen provides an astonishing array as it can help with men's prostate disorders, weight loss, menopause problems, loss of libido and also is a greet fount of energy and vitality.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Trade Iron Condor Successfully in 2012

An Iron Condor is a popular options strategy deployed by a number of options strategists who prefer not to take any view as to where the stock market is heading. In this respect, this strategy is also known as a market neutral options strategy.
Some options strategists prefer to trade an Iron Condor using stocks. However, this is not my preference. As we all know, every listed company in the United States has to announce its earnings in every quarter. Depending on the announcement and the market expectation on such an announcement, the stock price may gap up or down and this could potentially upset the trade because of the short gamma.
As far as I am concerned, I trade this strategy primarily using a few optionable index products such as S&P 500 Index ("SPX"), NASDAQ 100 Index ("NDX"), S&P 100 Index ("OEX"), and Russell 2000 Index ("RUT") instead of stocks. Why is that so? This is because any price movement of a single stock alone should not result in a big movement on the related index. This statement is however subject to a caveat when it comes to 2012. Thanks to Apple Inc ("AAPL"), a very popular stock from the United States with great momentum in price action and strong fundamentals. From my latest research and to the best of my knowledge, AAPL represents approximately 4.5% of the total value of SPX and almost 20% of the value of NDX. In this regard, when trading this strategy using SPX options or NDX options for example, it becomes necessary to pay attention to the news and price movement of AAPL.
I guess you may also wonder why I have a basket on the index products on hand and some of you may even ask why I do not trade this strategy using a single index product such as RUT. This is a very good question. Indeed, a few years back, I traded this strategy primarily using RUT options and in doing so, I studied all the essential information pertaining to this index product, including the settlement process and the historical price movement in each expiration cycle of this index during the last decade. My belief then was that as long as I traded this strategy month after month, I would be able to make money consistently.
As I continue with my education in options trading, one of my mentors pointed out to me that the abovementioned trading style involving the use of only a single index product and trading in and out on a monthly basis would not serve me well in the long run. One reason is because of the implied volatility ("IV") skews. According to my mentor, a successful Iron Condor trader takes a serious view in looking at the prevailing IV skews to decide whether the index option in question is appropriate for the Iron Condor strategy. There could be some months of a year where the IV skews become too cheap for a trader to sell an Iron Condor. This was exactly the case for RUT options in the last few months. In other words, the RUT options were too cheap to be sold. Hence, I used other index products such as SPX and OEX for selling my iron condor instead.
Another step I used to do in the past was to focus on selling a 10 delta call option and a 10 delta put option. Even until now, I am aware that there are still quite a number of people who would construct their Iron Condor by purely following this "10-delta" rule. Once again, thanks to my mentor who pointed out that this is not the recommended approach because very often, there could be mispricing of options quotes. What do I mean by that? This means that we should not be blindly selling a 10 delta call option and a 10 delta put option in every instance. Instead, we should pay attention to the strike above or below the 10 delta options. Sometimes, even if we were selling a 9-delta option, we may be able to command a higher credit because of this mispricing behavior and thereby, improving our potential return on the Iron Condor.
In summary, for a trader to be successfully in trading Iron Condor in 2012, he has to keep a closer look on the changes to the IV skews of the options of the index products and remain flexible. He should also pay attention to this monster stock in the United States - AAPL too.