US Postal Stamp Futures

USPS - The Forever Stamp

Anyone who knows me is aware that I am totally into financial market analysis. And as the sharp analysts acknowledge, there are markets everywhere. Some of these markets go unearthed for decades until someone like Bill Gates or Donald Trump figures out how to make money off of them. Other markets are so large and encompassing that they are right in front of our faces, yet we often fail to acknowledge them.

Last week I went to buy some stamps from the US Post Office. When I ordered, the young lady asked if I wanted “The Forever Stamps” to which I replied “What is that?” Well, the Postal Service has finally figured something out. People absolutely hate the fact that USPS keeps raising the price of stamps, but never seems to add anything of value to either their service or to their customer service offerings. People also seem to abhor having to purchase new, more expensive books & rolls of stamps every year or face the nightmare of matching one, two, or three-cent stamps to their existing, now-non-compliant stamps.

Viola! The Forever Stamp is born!! They cost the exact same price as the 41-cent stamp, yet the Post Office makes the outlandish claim that “These stamps will work forever — no up charges, no extra stamps to buy.” I was inspired by this massive technological advance in USPS technology and at the same time dumbfounded by the fact that one stamp could remain functional forever, while the ones sitting next to them will be useless in 12-18 months. “Yes, I will take the Forever Stamps,” I said in the carefully balanced voice of a hypnotist.

Since that fateful day at the Post Office, I have spent countless hours marveling at this bold, unexpected maneuver by the USPS bean counters. Yet often I wonder “Did they do the math right?” I mean, a speculative buyer could literally make millions in future trading on the Forever Stamp market.

If we bought just $100,000 of these Forever Stamps, then in 10 years we could reap profits near $1.7 Million (based on current upward stamp cost projections). We all know that stamp prices go up. None of us knows why exactly, seeing as they occupy the same musty buildings and employ the same curmudgeonly staff from year-to-year. Highly doubtful that any of their overhead costs mushroom at a rate comparable to the stamp prices. Thus, via this estimation, Forever Stamp futures is a strong place to stow away equity for a rainy day.

Who would like to go in on this guaranteed money-maker with me?

Call Me GSEC 5730

Woo-haa! I keep those packets all in check!
When you go to write some shell code, best not disrespect!
Woo-haa! I gots you all in check!

GSEC Silver

That’s right, people. My week of buckled down studying has paid off and on Monday I took the two big exams. As Mark phrased it, I “gave those tests the smack-down.” Somehow I was able to pull a 96 on the Networking and Internet Security Technologies exam and a 94 on the Secure Communications and Windows/Unix Security exam. Woo-haa!! (You can verify that by going to the GIAC website and searching for my name.)

By Tuesday my name and scores were posted to the website and I had to go back to check it every hour or so just so the gravity of this accomplishment would set in. I am still surprised that I did so well considering how much material is covered. As you can imagine, I am totally on Geek Cloud 9. Many thanks to my excellent local mentor Doug Brown and to all the friends and family who were so supportive of me all Summer while I had my nose in the books. Yay! I can be social again!! 🙂

(Please note that my use of the GSEC Silver logo in no way implies an endorsement from nor a partnership with SANS Institute or GIAC. The logo is used only to indicate that I have passed the GSEC exams and obtained GIAC Silver certification. Proper permission for logo use has been explicitly obtained.)

Exotic Fruit Tasting

Digby and the Exotic Fruit Spread

We were lucky enough to join an exotic fruit tasting tour here in Cape Trib yesterday. The guy who runs the tour also owns the farm and small house nearby. What an incredible setting and the work they’ve done with the place is inspiring. Rain water reclaimation, solar power, hundreds of varieties of fruits and veggies — all growing in an organic, chemical-free environment.

This two hour tour was probably my favorite thing so far. After enthusiastically thanking him for showing us his place and delicious fruits, the last thing he asked was to “Tell other folks about it.” Consider yourself told. If you’re in the area, I highly recommend Digby’s fruit farm and tasting tour. Upon return, I would like to spend a few days in their bed and breakfast and a few lazy hours walking the orchard with their beautiful rottweilers.

Cape Trib — Lose Yourself

Cape Tribulation

Flew into Cairns. Hired a car. Lunch in Port Douglas at On The Inlet (a very nice seafood place). A bit of a walkaround and Tiramisu ice cream before getting back on the road. A quick stop in Daintree Village. Then crossing the Daintree River on the ferry. Amazing country up here. Nice and remote! Staying in Cape Tribulation for a few days before heading back down to Mission Beach. I can’t see how anyone would ever want to leave this paradise.

Sorry no pictures yet as the computers and connections available are quite slow. I imagine it will take a while to process them all upon return. Some good ones in there, tho.

Sydney In A Flash

Downtown Sydney

Okay, I don’t have much time to post since we’re about to catch another plane up the coast to North Queensland, but I figured I would mention a bit about Sydney. What a beautiful city!! There are grungy districts (like King’s Cross — where we have been staying) and very posh areas (Bondi Beach). The last three days have blown by and I’m lucky to have taken so many photos, otherwise I might not remember it all.

Now I see why Will comes here for a month each year. Lovely.

I hope to get another chance to post, but it may not happen as the intense week-long yoga retreat is coming up. Must… Maintain… Focus…

CORRECTION: We were staying in Potts Point, which is right next to (but not the same as) King’s Cross.