Another summer mix

coverWith the arrival of little H, I haven’t had a lot of time to scout out new music. At this point, anything under 5 years old counts as “fresh,” and I’m even breaking my taboo about including 1990s tracks. But you may enjoy it anyways. At least three of these artists are new to me in the last year, including one of the 1990s contributions.

Download here, for a few weeks only, or stream from Mixcloud.

David Pritchard – Mix 2015.07 by Drpritch on Mixcloud

In this era of easy streaming music… I feel pretty bad for the artists. If you like these tracks, please buy them individually on iTunes, or buy a few of the albums. Think of it like a tip jar.

  1. the weeknd. high for this. r&b, from house of balloons, 2011.
  2. the xx. islands. pop, from xx, 2009.
  3. antipop consortium. volcano [fourtet remix]. hip hop, from ninja tune xx compilation, 2010.
  4. gorillaz feat. mos def and hypnotic brass ensemble. sweepstakes. hip hop, from plastic beach, 2010.
  5. kid koala. skanky panky. turntablism / hip hop, from some of my best friends are djs, 2003.
  6. squarepusher. tetra sync [edit]. experimental / acid jazz, from ultravisitor, 2004.
  7. shadowy men on a shadowy planet. spy school graduation theme. rock, from sport fishin’, 1993.
  8. james. five-o. brit rock, from laid, 1993.
  9. basia bulat. the shore. folk, from heart of my own, 2010.
  10. tycho. from home. ambient, from past is prologue, 2006.
  11. burial. archangel. dubstep, from untrue, 2007.
  12. omar-s. oasis 13 1/2. techno, from fabric 45, 2009.
  13. der dritte raum. swing bop [acid pauli’s kosmik remix]. acid jazz, from future sounds of jazz 12 compilation, 2012.
  14. billie holiday. yesterdays [junior boys remix]. acid jazz, from verve remixed 3 compilation, 2005.
  15. death cab for cutie. i will follow you into the dark. rock, from plans, 2005.
  16. the smashing pumpkins. perfect. rock, from adore, 1998.

Passive portfolio 2013

Once again, there’s nothing new to report on my investment portfolio; just an excellent +21% year!

Past editions: 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012

It was an incredibly good year to hold U.S. and European/Pacific stocks. This is clearly the time to rebalance, “sell high” and shift into bonds. Not that bonds are expected to do great in the near future, but still – that’s the hedge against a sudden drop.

The sinking Canadian dollar is a notable part of the returns here – the 6% drop in the currency this year added 6% to all of the non-Canadian stock portfolio. That’s just the luck of the draw – it went up 5% in 2009 and reduced returns that year.

So, +21% this year. Notice that the “legendary bad year” for the stock market, 2008, was a -20% return year. How many headlines did you read about a “new depression” in 2008 compared to the headlines about a fantastic boom in 2013? I think this just shows the asymmetry of the news, and the impact that has on our perception. The bad news in 2008 was given massive coverage – and rightly so – but the good news in 2013 is seen as just “business as usual.” Many people made changes to their investment strategy after 2008, but many will not even notice 2013.


Here’s the performance of my portfolio over the past several years, using the latest 2013 country weights. (Note that South Korea moved from “emerging” to “europe / pacific” category this year.) The table below shows the annual returns of each component of the portfolio, giving the “sequence of returns” for each piece.

2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013
   U.S.A. VTI -9% -23% 11% 11% 6% 16% 43%
   Europe / Pacific VEA -6% -27% 10% 3% -8% 18% 30%
   Emerging VWO 17% -42% 52% 13% -15% 19% 2%
   Canada XIC 9% -33% 34% 17% -9% 7% 12%
Subtotal -2.2% -27.8% 18.9% 9.9% -3.3% 15.2% 28.5%
Fixed income
   Mixed bonds XBB/VAB  3% 6% 5% 6% 9% 3% -2%
Subtotal 3.0% 6.1% 5.1% 6.0% 9.1% 3.0% -1.8%
Cash 0% 0% 0% 0% 0% 0% 0%
Total -1.1% -19.7% 15.2% 8.6% -0.7% 12.0% 21.1%

Same assumptions as usual:

  • Expressed in Canadian dollar terms (i.e., including all currency shift effects and using no currency hedging)
  • Includes all distributions/dividends
  • Rebalanced annually

Cumulative returns:

  • From Jan. 2007 to Dec. 2013: 34.1%
  • From Jan. 2008 to Dec. 2013: 35.5% (5.2% annually over 6 years)
  • From Jan. 2009 to Dec. 2013: 68.7% (11.0% annually over 5 years)
  • From Jan. 2010 to Dec. 2013: 46.4%
  • From Jan. 2011 to Dec. 2013: 34.7%
  • From Jan. 2012 to Dec. 2013: 21.1%

Good books about babies

As a few friends are now following us into parenthood, I thought it might be helpful to put down on paper some of the things we found most useful. In that spirit, here’s part 1: baby books that we liked. Many thanks to Nancy Kurylowicz, who first pointed us towards many of these books.

Pregnancy & First Months

mayoMayo Clinic Guide to a Healthy Pregnancy

    • . The best all-around guide to pregnancy and health that we found. Much better than the fluffy “What to Expect When You’re Expecting” series.

Continue reading “Good books about babies”

More movies online! Via the USA

My local video stores all closed two years ago, and we switched largely to iTunes rentals, plus the occasional Bay St. video or Film Buff for obscure films. I was initially quite unhappy with the selection on iTunes Canada – we watch a lot of obscure, old and foreign films, but most of the video-on-demand services are mainly good for post-2005 North American films. So, I’ve just done a quick scan of the alternatives.

The verdict: iTunes Canada is considerably better than it used to be, and iTunes US is a little better – but not massively better. Using both iTunes US and Amazon Instant Video is probably the best bet.

Here’s the math. We’ve got a list of 81 movies we’d like to see. This list already excludes many easy-to-find titles that we’ve already rented from iTunes Canada, but still has a number of popular movies. Many films on the list are from the Onion A.V. Club’s Best of 2000s and orphans lists, the American Film Institute’s Top 100, and good films I’ve previously seen and would like to watch with my wife. You can think of my list as an “obscurity-ometer” – the more you can hit off, the better for viewing obscure films.

Continue reading “More movies online! Via the USA”