“To profit from good advice requires more wisdom than to give it.” -Wilson Mizner

💡👍 How I View the Stock Market – May 6th 2023

I do not have a strong sense of what I’m doing when it comes to investing in stocks, but I’ve dabbled in the subject, find it interesting, and loosely follow what’s happening to the market. I focus on the S&P 500 while occasionally looking at a specific stock. While I would never advise someone to follow my perspective on the market, I figured I would document my thoughts right now so that I can look back on them in 6-12 months to see how correct my thinking was.

Back in November/December I mentioned to a colleague at work that I thought the market had bottomed. This perspective was based on the information-sphere (internet, media, news, etc.) being over-saturated with negative market outlooks. When I begin to see certain types of doom-titled articles about the market, in the past I’ve found that those moments mark the bottom of the downtrend. There’s no one left to sell and that’s when the buyers resume control of the market. So far my prediction from last year has turned out to be correct.

The S&P has been in an intermediate uptrend since October last year. Indicators have generally been positive and just this week price bounced off the 50 day moving average. People in general still seem quite pessimistic about financial conditions though. I don’t have high hopes of this uptrend extending significantly further in the near future. It will likely take more time for financial attitudes to lighten enough for the market to grow.

While looking at the weekly chart above is interesting, things get even more interesting when looking at the weekly chart for the S&P:

The rosiness of the daily bar chart disappears to some degree when looking at the weekly chart. Price action has been struggling to break above a cloud since the beginning of the year and there’s clearly strong resistance at 4200. However, price action keeps testing that resistance. If it keeps doing what it’s doing now, eventually the price will breakout higher with the next significant resistance being at 4600 and 4200 becoming support. I am optimistic that we will see that happen by late summer, barring any major catastrophic world events.

So that’s the basic summary of what I see when I look at the stock market right now. Just to provide some background, I thought I’d elaborate a bit about the tools I used to stay informed and follow the market:

I do not follow any specific sources of news to inform my investing perspective. I absorb what makes its way to me through Reddit, YouTube, and a couple news email newsletters. For the most part, my investing follows the technical analysis approach which dictates that all of the information I need to know about a stock is represented in it’s price action. It is impossible for me as an amateur, hobbyist, individual investor to know more than what the market already knows. The only way for me to make money is to ride the trends and waves of the market. Given these circumstances, I believe in following the price action of the market and that’s why following price action is the only research I do.

I use a great service called It’s a super powerful set of tools that can do much more than I need to do. The service provides excellent charting features and even a mobile app to view my charts on-the-go. I have not found a better way to view detailed, customized bar charts. I don’t think I would want anything to do with investing if did not exist. I definitely recommend giving it a try.

💡 Solving Trouble with Monitor Arrangement on MacOS

I recently upgraded to a new MacBook Pro and for an unknown reason, the same monitors I was using on my 2019 MacBook Pro experience trouble with their arrangement on this new 2023 MBP. Specifically, each time I wake the computer from sleep the position of the two external monitors will be swapped. To fix the problem, I either need to put the computer back to sleep for several minutes or manually rearrange the position of the monitors in MacOS. To say the least, this is tremendously annoying.

While I have not been able to completely solve this problem, I’ve improved the situation and wanted to share my solution with others in case the information is helpful.

My Monitors

I am using a pair of identical monitors called “Packed Pixels“. I really like the small footprint of these monitors. For being independently produced, they’re very well made. However, there is obviously a problem with the monitors in this situation and my first question became, “Are the computer monitors the culprit of the issue or is the culprit MacOS?”

My searching led to an April 2022 post on an Apple forum about this issue occurring with Samsung monitors. In this post, someone who clearly knows a thing or two recommends entering the following line in Terminal:

  ioreg -l | grep EDID

This code asks the computer to provide Extended Display Identification Data (EDID). EDID is information that describes a display’s capabilities to a video source. After running this code in Terminal, I get the following:

Comparing the results for the two monitors connected to my laptop reveals that they are identical in every way except for the ‘port ID’.

What appears to be happening is that MacOS sees these two monitors as identical in every discernable way. When the computer wakes up from sleep, it has a process where it looks at the external monitors attached, tries to identify them, and then uses the identities found to consult a record of where those monitors are supposed to be arranged in relation to each other and the primary display. Because MacOS sees these two monitors as identical, this process ends up swapping the two.

What I cannot account for is why MacOS consistently swaps the monitors every time the computer wakes from sleep. It would make more sense if this problem occurred randomly or intermittently.

Whose Fault Is This?

Well, there’s probably a shared responsibility here.

Packed Pixels should have distinguished the EDID of their monitors. Each monitor should not have the same serial number. I don’t know if it’s possible for me to edit the EDID on my monitors. I suspect it is not. I have reached out to the maker of the Packed Pixels about this issue and have not heard back yet.

While Packed Pixels could have distinguished their monitors, MacOS is clearly doing something odd here too and could do more to handle failure conditions like this one. MacOS should not make the assumption that the user is swapping the ports the monitors are plugged into each time the computer is woken from sleep. In the EDID above, the monitors each have a unique ‘port ID’ which is the USB-C ports they are plugged into. MacOS should be smart enough to realize that these ports correspond with unique monitors that are not being re-positioned. It would also be quite helpful if MacOS would let me manually identify identical monitors so that from then forward they could be considered unique.

Is There a Solution?

I have not found a complete solution to this problem outside of purchasing a new monitor. However, I have found a piece of software that serves as a band-aid solution until I can figure out something better.

SwitchResX is an app that gives fine control over the display settings used when specific configurations of monitors are plugged into a machine. After installing the app, opening the ‘Display Sets’ settings tab reveals options to create display new display sets.

My display sets are creatively titled:

For the first display set, I gave it the hotkey of Ctrl-Option-Cmd-1 and saved the current arrangement of the monitors:

Then for the second display set, I first needed to rearrange the position of the monitors using the Display panel in System Settings. Once re-positioned, I created a new display set, gave it the hotkey Ctrl-Option-Cmd-2, and ensured the ‘Placed at’ X-axis values were reversed relative to set 1:

Now I have the ability to slap one of these keyboard shortcuts to immediately rearrange the position of my external monitors. If I wanted to get real fancy, I might be able to sort out an AppleScript that automatically switched between these two display sets.

However, I fear that this solution is not going to last forever as looking at SwitchResX’s website reveals that it’s very old. The fact that it hasn’t been updated in a long time indicates that this software probably won’t be supported on new Macs for a whole lot longer. I’ve seen many instances of this in the past with other Mac software and learned that I cannot rely too heavily on band-aid solutions from random 3rd party developers. Nevertheless, I’m thankful that I at least have a solution to work with for the time being.

💡 Akin’s Laws of Spacecraft Design

I stumbled across this list of rules to abide by when designing spacecraft and realized that many of the rules apply to other areas of life in addition to spacecraft design.

1. Engineering is done with numbers. Analysis without numbers is only an opinion.

2. To design a spacecraft right takes an infinite amount of effort. This is why it’s a good idea to design them to operate when some things are wrong .

3. Design is an iterative process. The necessary number of iterations is one more than the number you have currently done. This is true at any point in time.

4. Your best design efforts will inevitably wind up being useless in the final design. Learn to live with the disappointment.

5. (Miller’s Law) Three points determine a curve.

6. (Mar’s Law) Everything is linear if plotted log-log with a fat magic marker.

7. At the start of any design effort, the person who most wants to be team leader is least likely to be capable of it.

8. In nature, the optimum is almost always in the middle somewhere. Distrust assertions that the optimum is at an extreme point.

9. Not having all the information you need is never a satisfactory excuse for not starting the analysis.

10. When in doubt, estimate. In an emergency, guess. But be sure to go back and clean up the mess when the real numbers come along.

11. Sometimes, the fastest way to get to the end is to throw everything out and start over.

12. There is never a single right solution. There are always multiple wrong ones, though.

13. Design is based on requirements. There’s no justification for designing something one bit “better” than the requirements dictate.

14. (Edison’s Law) “Better” is the enemy of “good”.

15. (Shea’s Law) The ability to improve a design occurs primarily at the interfaces. This is also the prime location for screwing it up.

16. The previous people who did a similar analysis did not have a direct pipeline to the wisdom of the ages. There is therefore no reason to believe their analysis over yours. There is especially no reason to present their analysis as yours.

17. The fact that an analysis appears in print has no relationship to the likelihood of its being correct.

18. Past experience is excellent for providing a reality check. Too much reality can doom an otherwise worthwhile design, though.

19. The odds are greatly against you being immensely smarter than everyone else in the field. If your analysis says your terminal velocity is twice the speed of light, you may have invented warp drive, but the chances are a lot better that you’ve screwed up.

20. A bad design with a good presentation is doomed eventually. A good design with a bad presentation is doomed immediately.

21. (Larrabee’s Law) Half of everything you hear in a classroom is crap. Education is figuring out which half is which.

22. When in doubt, document. (Documentation requirements will reach a maximum shortly after the termination of a program.)

23. The schedule you develop will seem like a complete work of fiction up until the time your customer fires you for not meeting it.

24. It’s called a “Work Breakdown Structure” because the Work remaining will grow until you have a Breakdown, unless you enforce some Structure on it.

25. (Bowden’s Law) Following a testing failure, it’s always possible to refine the analysis to show that you really had negative margins all along.

26. (Montemerlo’s Law) Don’t do nuthin’ dumb.

27. (Varsi’s Law) Schedules only move in one direction.

28. (Ranger’s Law) There ain’t no such thing as a free launch.

29. (von Tiesenhausen’s Law of Program Management) To get an accurate estimate of final program requirements, multiply the initial time estimates by pi, and slide the decimal point on the cost estimates one place to the right.

30. (von Tiesenhausen’s Law of Engineering Design) If you want to have a maximum effect on the design of a new engineering system, learn to draw. Engineers always wind up designing the vehicle to look like the initial artist’s concept.

31. (Mo’s Law of Evolutionary Development) You can’t get to the moon by climbing successively taller trees.

32. (Atkin’s Law of Demonstrations) When the hardware is working perfectly, the really important visitors don’t show up.

33. (Patton’s Law of Program Planning) A good plan violently executed now is better than a perfect plan next week.

34. (Roosevelt’s Law of Task Planning) Do what you can, where you are, with what you have.

35. (de Saint-Exupery’s Law of Design) A designer knows that he has achieved perfection not when there is nothing left to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.

36. Any run-of-the-mill engineer can design something which is elegant. A good engineer designs systems to be efficient. A great engineer designs them to be effective.

37. (Henshaw’s Law) One key to success in a mission is establishing clear lines of blame.

38. Capabilities drive requirements, regardless of what the systems engineering textbooks say.

39. Any exploration program which “just happens” to include a new launch vehicle is, de facto, a launch vehicle program.

39. (alternate formulation) The three keys to keeping a new human space program affordable and on schedule:
1) No new launch vehicles.
2) No new launch vehicles.
3) Whatever you do, don’t develop any new launch vehicles.

40. (McBryan’s Law) You can’t make it better until you make it work.

41. There’s never enough time to do it right, but somehow, there’s always enough time to do it over.

42. Space is a completely unforgiving environment. If you screw up the engineering, somebody dies (and there’s no partial credit because most of the analysis was right…)


💡 Learning to Ride a Motorcycle

Note: my advice and story in this post come from obtaining my motorcycle license in California. The laws and process for obtaining a license in other states may vary but my advice about the fundamentals of riding a motorcycle remain the same no matter where you are.

So you want to ride on two wheels, huh? Motorcycling is an amazingly fun but potentially risky activity. And that includes riding a scooter too.

One summer when I was in Idaho with my family, my brother and I decided to pursue getting our motorcycle licenses. We looked into the classes put on by the Motorcycle Safety Foundation (@MSF__USA) and signed up for one in Alameda, CA. We had to get up at the butt crack of dawn but it ended up being worth it. Turning on the motorcycles for the first time and idling there on the huge, empty, chilly parking lot was an incredible feeling. It only got better when we started weaving around cones and performing quick stops.

Let me back up for a second. The Motorcycle Safety Foundation, or MSF as it is popularly known as in the motorcycling world, is the first place to start when thinking about riding a motorcycle or scooter. Many people are tempted to buy the vehicle first and then pursue the license after. That is the wrong way to approach motorcycling. Buying the motorcycle before properly learning how to ride is wrong for several reasons:

  • You don’t know how to ride a motorcycle so therefore you cannot properly test ride any motorcycle you want to buy
  • If you have never driven a motorcycle yourself, how do you know that you really want to ride one? It can be scarier than you think.
  • No. Just don’t do it that way. Trust me.

Riding a motorcycle is a fundamentally different activity than driving a car. Modern cars are extremely easy to drive. There is no manual transmission to fuss with. There is virtually no movement required to direct the car down the road. All cars have fancy climate control systems to ensure that the weather outside the vehicle has almost no affect on the driver (until the weather becomes severe, of course). Cars are enormous, heavy objects with lots of tire area contacting the ground relative to motorcycles. Most of them are very safe to drive and have incredible safety features to protect the occupants during accidents. Motorcycles are light, small, quick, hard to see, exposed to the elements, and have zero protection for the driver in the event of an accident. Riding a motorcycle requires 100% of your focus 100% of the time the vehicle is on the road. The second you let your focus slip for any amount of time, you dramatically increase the chances that you will not be able to properly react in the event that something on the road becomes a hazard. In a car you can practically take a nap and you’ll get to your destination without incident. If you are not prepared to make this commitment to focus or are physically unable to devote this kind of concentration, I suggest you immediately stop pursuing your motorcycle license.

Because of the differences between riding a motorcycle and driving a car, you need to learn how to ride a motorcycle and not just practice riding. MSF is the best way to do this because they will give you a solid foundation of motorcycling knowledge to build on top of. Most MSF classes involve one day in the classroom and two days on a motorcycle. You must first pass a written test which is given to you at the end of the classroom session and then you must pass a driving test at the end of the outdoor sessions. You can check out the Motorcycle Operator Manual which is provided by the MSF to get an idea about what kind of material is covered in the classroom and out of the lot. If you manage to pass both of these tests, you are presented with a certificate and a card. The certificate allows you to go to the DMV and take a written test to obtain your M class license to legally ride a motorcycle. The MSF card gives you discounts at lots of motorcycle shops, some insurance agencies, and other nifty places. This is huge because when I bought all of my gear (Gloves, boots, pants, jacket, back protector, helmet, warm underclothing, and other accessories) the price tag was big. Taking a (one-time) 10% MSF discount off of that bill at Cycle Gear (@CycleGear) is a considerable amount to save. You will need to buy gloves and boots for your MSF riding classes. A helmet will be provided for you. Don’t buy anything more than gloves and boots, and don’t go super fancy on the gear. You have no idea yet if you really want to buy and ride a motorcycle yet. Wait until you can get your license and that MSF discount to buy the majority of your riding gear.

After you are done with MSF and you have your M class license, you are almost ready to purchase a bike. At this point in your motorcycling career, you still absolutely suck at riding a motorcycle. You first need to do some more studying before you are ready to go ride some strangers motorcycle, or even your friend’s. You might think I am joking about reading books to learn how to ride a motorcycle but I cannot stress the importance of these books enough. While the MSF course is crucial to learning how to ride, the books I recommend cover so much more material that you would never know otherwise. There are 2 books that I consider the bibles of learning how to ride a motorcycle. The first is titled Proficient Motorcycling: The Ultimate Guide to Riding Well by David L. Hough. This book discusses how to safely and smartly ride a motorcycle. It covers all types of riding situations and applies to every type of rider. I seriously recommend reading this book cover to cover. The next book is called Sport Riding Techniques: How to Develop Real World Skills for Speed, Safety, and Confidence on the Street and Track by Nick Ienatsch. While this book covers a more advanced and specific type of riding style (riding a sport bike), it is invaluable in understanding what is happening when you ride real world conditions. It also covers track racing so you can skip anything that gets too technical.

After you are done reading those books, and hopefully reviewing the notes you took while reading, you should have a pretty decent understanding of how to ride a motorcycle. One last thing I recommend is hopping on YouTube and searching for ‘how to pickup a motorcycle‘. At some point in your riding career, you or someone you are with will drop a bike. While motorcycles are relatively light vehicles, they are still extremely heavy and hard to lift. Understanding how to pickup a motorcycle will allow you to turn a disastrous situation into simply a bad one.

Now that you have a solid foundation of knowledge, you’re going to need to cement that knowledge into your head by riding a motorcycle. You want to either find a friend with a bike or shop around on Craigslist/Ebay for used rides. It is discussed in the MSF course but you will want to consider what type of motorcycle you want and how much power you need. People who purely ride around a city probably don’t want a big 500 cc motorcycle and someone who plans to eventually do lots of highway traveling probably won’t want a small 250 cc ride. Understanding how much power you need and can handle is important.

If you plan on buying your own motorcycle, it is recommended that your first one should be a used bike. Motorcycles lose a lot of their original value the second you roll it off the lot. You want to be sure you will ride your motorcycle before you make a big investment. Also, beginners are likely to make mistakes. Your bike might drop once or twice, you might ding mirrors when lane sharing, or you might slide out on slippery surfaces. All of these are very real possibilities for even experienced riders and it’s better for one of these things to happen to a used bike than a bike in pristine condition.

When buying a used motorcycle, there is a guide available online which covers absolutely every aspect of inspecting used motorcycles. This guide is called the Used Motorcycle Evaluation Guide and it’s written by Adam Glass. Before you go to look at your first bike, give this guide a thorough read. You want to be familiar with the different parts of a motorcycle and what could be out of place. Once you are actually looking at a bike and giving it a test ride, any ability you previously had to make sound judgments completely flies out the window. You will want to buy that first bike regardless of how much it costs and how bad of a condition it is. Do not buy the first bike you test ride. Even if the motorcycle is in perfect condition with a great price tag, hold off. Go home and sleep on the decision. Better yet, test ride at least 3 motorcycles before you make the decision to purchase. Trust me, you will be so much happier in the long run if you shop around.

After buying a motorcycle, you’re ready to ride! Make sure you always have your license, registration, and insurance on your bike at all times. Forgetting that stuff will get you in a boat load of trouble. Before you go willy-nilly on your motorcycle, remember that you still suck at riding the thing. Chances are that it’s been a few weeks since you completed the MSF course so you will need to find an open space (parking lot) to mess around in. Go to that parking lot and do the following:

  • Practice accelerating from a stop, shifting from 1st gear to 2nd and then up to 3rd while traveling in a straight line.
  • Practice coming to a complete stop and accelerating again like you would at a stop sign.
  • Learn the limits of your bike’s braking power by traveling at a constant 15 MPH in a straight line and then stopping rather quickly. Don’t stop using a full 100% of your braking power the first time. Start at 50% power and move gradually to 100%. After you understand how your bike behaves under heavy braking, up the speed from 15 MPH to 20 MPH. Repeat this exercise until you can safely come to a quick stop from 40 MPH. (At some point in your motorcycling career, not right away, you will want to perform this exercise from a full 65-70 MPH. Stopping quickly on the highway is one of the scariest things you will ever do. If you can do it well, it will save your life and your motorcycle)
  • Set up some cones or other markers on the pavement and practice U-turns until they are easy. Be sure you can U-turn to your right as well as your left.
  • Arrange two cones or markers in an offset pattern so that you can practice sudden turns around them. The first cone should be placed far enough in front of the vehicle to accelerate to 2nd or 3rd gear. The second cone should be placed farther back from the first cone and several paces to the left or right. The idea is that these turns should be quick, short maneuvers to both the right and the left to practice avoiding non-moving obstacles. An illustration of the maneuver is pictured here.
  • Practice maneuvering through the parking lot while using your horn.
  • You may need a few friends to help with this next exercise: Lay down a bunch of towels on the ground and gently lower your bike onto the towels like it just fell over. Now practice lifting the bike using your own power. (see YouTube for proper lifting instructions) Note: this activity can potentially harm the body of the bike. Use extreme care while performing this one.

Be sure to run through this list in an empty parking lot once every 3-6 months. That might seem like a short period of time but I can’t stress enough how important it is to have solid motorcycling fundamentals burned into your brain. Remember: when you are in an emergency situation, your reaction will default to your lowest level of training.

That’s about all the advice I have for new riders. One of the keys to a healthy motorcycling career is understanding that it is a risky activity. Although you cannot control the risk that exists on the roads, you can take steps to minimize that risk. Every effort you make to lessen that risk increases your chances of avoiding trouble.

P.S.- If you ride motorcycles and have any advice you feel is missing from this post, PLEASE let me know! I would love to make this post as comprehensive as possible. You can reach me on Twitter at @Magnuson. Thanks!

Scroll to Top