All posts by Kingston

Picking an Investment Fund Based on Performance Comparisons

I’ve been trying to figure out the best way to pick out an investment fund. Here are some of my scattered thoughts.

Narrow down which funds track which index, and compare the performance. If it seemed like the fund regularly beat index performance, it tells me that the fund manager is tracking the index closely and is aware of market activities. However, just because a fund does not beat an index does not mean the fund is bad. It may mean that the manager took a risk that did not pan out. An example of a good fund that doesn’t match the comparative performance I would want is Vanguard Mid-Cap Growth Index Investor (VMGIX). As of right now, it has grown in the last 1, 3, 5 years at 15%, 9% and 11%. Sounds great! But when you compare it to the Nasdaq at 1, 3, and 5 it gets 22%, 15%, and 17%. Fidelity Nasdaq Composite Index Fund (FNCMX) gets 21%, 15%, 17% so close! Here’s a Virtus KAR Small-Cap Growth Fund Class A (PSGAX) where it gets 37%, 25%, 19%. There’s more out there but it takes time to find them.

Friends – Season 2

The producers of Friends season 1 took my feedback when making season 2 because a lot of the problems I had were pretty much addressed.

The season picks up where Season 1 left off. Rachel is about to tell Ross that she is thirsty, but Ross brings back his new Asian girlfriend foiling her plans.

The main characters that seemed like side characters had some major growth this season. You really see Joey’s career moves as he goes from making ends meet to a big role on a soap opera and back to struggling actor. He’s still dumb but just slightly less so.

Chandler’s growth this season mostly surrounding his emotions. He deals with realizing that he might die alone and trying really hard to trick women into sleeping with him. He also has to deal with a creepy roommate which he’s lucky to have survived from.

Phoebe’s storyline grew by leaps and bounds this season. She has a lot of men in her life, a not-gay-gay-Canadian-husband, a sailor that she gets with in Monica’s apartment and a new half-brother. Still not a lot but way more than season 1!

Monica’s storyline follows her career and romantic life. She loses her job after making an ethics mistake and struggles to find a new job. She also falls in love with one of her parent’s friends/friend’s parent. She deals with a few life decisions that come with that.

Ross is still boring funny. He brings a new girlfriend, breaks up with that girl, gets with Rachel, breaks up, makes up, etc. He’s still earning a good income. He confronts 2 bullies with Chandler and he ends up seeing eye-to-eye with them. Blah.

Rachel is still pretty much the same. She wrecks a home. Makes the situation about herself. Everyone does things for her. Her best episode was when she tried to stand up for herself at Barry’s wedding.

Some highlights, Monica and Rachel’s prom video and Chandler gets stuck in a bathroom wearing women’s panties,

Friends – Season 1

Whenever I help move some furniture, someone will always say, “Pivot! Pivot! Pi-VOT!” and then ask if I know the reference. That is one of a handful of Friends episodes that I have watched. The situation seems to always continue with a stand-off of “do you know this Friends reference” moments. Sorry folks, I didn’t watch every episode. But I will now!

The show is about 6 mid-20 aged friends in New York dealing with the randomness that happens in life. There are a lot of unrealistic things to point out about the show but it’s fiction so who cares!

There characters are Ross, Monica, Rachel, Joey, Chandler and Phoebe. The characters seem to work really well off of each other since they are portrayed as an extremely close group of friends that doesn’t mind making fun of each other.

Ross is the moody intellectual that seems to always get himself into some ridiculous situations. In the beginning of the show, he’s getting divorced from his pregnant lesbian wife, Carol. Yes, folks… pregnant lesbian wife. He also has a high school crush on Rachel which plays out throughout the season. Everyday he hangs out at the apartment of his younger sister, Monica. He also adopted a monkey named Marcel(sp?) the butt of a lot of their jokes and antics.

Rachel starts off as the privileged girl who just left the groom at the alter. You feel bad for her because she never really learned real world skills to survive. She lucks out by running into her high school classmate Monica at a coffee shop after leaving the chapel. Her skill in making people feel sorry for her is 10/10.

Monica is an aspiring chef that has a ginormous apartment that all of her friends hang out in. She seems like the motherly one in the bunch and cares a lot about cleanliness. When Rachel abandoned her wedding and ran into the gang, Monica took her in.

Joey and Chandler are just laugh track manufacturers. They say things just to make a laugh without really progressing their story lines. Joey is the young aspiring actor with a big heart but a small brain. Chandler is the sarcastic goofball. It’s almost like he has lived a life of pain and is trying to hide it by making everything in the world a joke. These two play off each other very well.

Phoebe is the wild card character. She’s super random in what she does or says and is funny because she makes the scenes awkward.

Portland Recommendations

A friend recently asked for some Portland recommendations. We haven’t gone since March 2015, but these were some of the places we went back then.

Pok Pok – Thai Food. I just remember that this place had really good chicken wings. Some say better than San Tung but I didn’t think so.

Blue Star Donuts – Donuts. This place had better tasting donuts, but Voodoo definitely takes the cake when it comes to interesting looking donuts.

Heart Roasters – Coffee Shop. Some of the best small batch coffee roasters! Another plus is that they have some of that great Rachel’s Ginger Beer from Seattle.

Nong’s – Thai. This is that Thai style Hainan Chicken. Really tasty!

Stumptown Coffee Roasters – Coffee. We did a tour here back then but I heard they don’t have that anymore. It’s a shame but the coffee is still worth it.

Coffee Equipment for Beginners in 2018

I love coffee.  I love drinking it, talking about it, making it, sharing it.  Every time someone asks me what they should get to start brewing their own coffee at home I get excited.  Like really excited.

There are a few items you’ll want to get to start, the coffee vessel, thermometer, hot water vessel, coffee filters, grinder and a kitchen scale.

The Coffee Vessel: Chemex 6-cup and Chemex Filters


If you’ve already done a bit of research, you are probably wondering why Chemex over the Hario V60, Kalita Wave or Aeropress or even why drip over French Press or Espresso.

There’s a reason the Chemex coffee maker is displayed in Manhattan’s Museum of Modern Art.  Made with all glass with a wood collar tied down by a thin strip of leather it’s a beauty with or without coffee.  The simple, beautiful design makes it the perfect art display when you aren’t being that cup of Joe.

The Chemex is the most forgiving when it comes to brewing drip coffee. 90% of the magic is in the filters which seem to filter out a lot of the bitterness in most coffees giving you a nice clean tasting cup of coffee.  Some people think the coffee taste is too light, but that’s where all of your coffee tools come into play. I’ve found that the finer you grind the more chocolatey you can make your brew especially when you pair it with a medium or medim-dark roast.

The biggest negative I have with this is how you clean it. I’ve tried rinsing it, stuffing a regular sponge and letting it soak in a vinegar mixture. What would probably work best is one of those wand sponges. However, removing the grounds is much easier with this that the AeroPress or French Press. You just pick up the filter and plop it in your compost bin.

The Grinder: Baratza Encore

I use a KitchenAid ProLine grinder at home which I’ve modified to create a finer grind for espresso. If I was starting over, I would probably recommend getting the Baratza Encore.  It may seem expensive, but getting a good conical burr grinder is worth it when you are starting out.

We purchased one for my brother-in-law and he loves it. The grinds are nice and consistent.  It’s pretty easy to clean and it’s pretty quiet compared to the ProLine. There’s a little door that keeps the grinds from getting all over the place.

My buddy also recommends the CuisinArt Automatic Burr Mill.  I’ve never actually used this one but it’s cheaper than the Baratza.

I don’t recommend getting a manual grinder unless you need a cheaper alternative, need to save space or need it to be portable.  I have a manual Kyocera Ceramic Coffee Mill that I used for pulling espresso shots but prefer using the automatic grinder at 6am to brew a pourover.

Water kettle

Photo by Sabri Tuzcu on Unsplash

I’m using the Hario Gooseneck kettle with electric attachment. What I love about it is the control the gooseneck gives me for the pour. The other plus is that I just fill it turn the heat on and start preparing the beans and chemex filter.

Kitchen Scale and Timer

Any scale is useful here.  I don’t really have a recommendation as long as it measures in grams and ounces.  The one we use is the OXO Good Grips Stainless Steel Food Scale with Pull-Out Display.  For the timer, just use your phone.

Hbase Slowdown and Region Inconsistencies

At work, we had an issue with Hbase where one of our regionservers was reporting its hostname and ip address to the Hbase master.  This was causing a lot of slowness to occur when regions were being accessed through the ip address and the hostname was returning the data.

First, I needed to isolate the problem to this node.  Since I knew the regionserver data is being shared on the underlying datanode, I wasn’t concerned with shutting the regionserver off.

Act I.  Shutting the regionserver off.

Well, that worked.  However, looking at the Hbase master, the ip is still checking in.  The next step is to see what kind of processes are running on the node.  ssh onto the regionserver host and run something like:

ps -ef | grep regionserver

When I did this, there was a orphaned regionserver process.  Take note of the child and parent PIDs in case you kill the process and still have an orphan.

kill <PID>

Now, I was free of any lingering regionservers.  Looking at the hbase master, the regionserver IP was finally listed on the dead nodes.

At this point, I brought the regionserver back.  However, as it came back, there were several regionservers still stuck in transition.  This is the dreaded RIT issue!

Act II.  Remove the Regions In Transition

The typical steps to fixing regions in transition are to stop hbase, remove the znodes, start hbase.

And that’s what I did.

So, I stopped hbase and watched the logs to see if there was going to be any errors.  Things shutdown rather quickly, so I logged into the Zookeeper Command Line Interface (zkcli).

hbase zkcli or zookeeper-client

in here you want to remove the /hbase znode.

rmr /hbase

Then I started hbase back up.

Act. III – Fixing Regions in Transition (Again)

So, we didn’t actually fix the regions.  Some of the regions were still tied to the orphaned regionserver process ip.  This is where you bring out the big guns.

hbase hbck -repair

When I ran this, it started to look at all the hbase tables and regionservers for inconsistencies.  This ended up repairing the regions that were tied to the orphaned process and found quite a few files that had no references at all.

In the end, these three steps fixed a majority of slowness for us.


King of Tokyo Board Game Review

A while back, I wrote a review on the board game King of Tokyo on Amazon.  I just checked it today and noticed that 200 people found my review helpful!  I still feel like this is an excellent game for those of you looking for a fun casual game to play with your group.

By Kingston Lee on November 26, 2012

King of Tokyo is a dice and card game where you are one of 6 Monsters trying to take over Tokyo. I found this to be a very fun and easy to learn (and teach) family game. There is a lot of luck (and some strategy) involved so anyone can win.

There are two ways to win:
1. Get the most Victory Points
2. Be the last monster standing

How a turn works:
1. Roll your dice
2. Re-roll the dice you do not want
3. Re-roll the dice you do not want (again!)
4. Count the results of your roll.

The roll can either give you energy points, victory points, heal your monster, or attack other monsters.
If you roll energy points, you can purchase upgrade cards to give your monster extra abilities to gain an advantage over your foes.
If you roll victory points, you get closer to winning the game by points.
When rolling attacks, there are specific rules that you should remember. When standing in Tokyo, you attack all the monsters outside of Tokyo. When standing outside of Tokyo, you attack the monster in Tokyo. Only one monster can be in Tokyo at a time (unless playing with 5-6 players, there’s a second area of Tokyo to rule).
When rolling heals, you can only heal when you are outside of Tokyo. This makes it more difficult for the guy trying to stay as the ruler of Tokyo.

How to gain victory points:
1. Roll 3 of a kinds with the numbered dice
2. Take over or stay in Tokyo
3. Buy cards that add victory points

Final words
If you decide to purchase this game, remember that the replay value can be very limited depending on the group you are playing with. I found that the first 20-30 times I played the game, the gameplay was fun because of the different cards. Game groups will love to play this before and/or in-between really intense sessions of longer games like Settlers of Catan, Battlestar Galactica, or Arkham Horror. Families will love playing this game with their kids.

Serial Podcast is back!

I’m super excited that Serial has returned for a second season. This time around, it’s a recent mystery about Bowe Bergdahl, a soldier who allegedly deserted his post and walked into enemy territory. Originally celebrated a hero, he became a villain as accounts of his desertion flooded the news.  A few questions come to mind. Will Sarah Koenig have a crush on Bowe? Is Mail Kimp going to support this one? It’s time to start the first episode.

Continue reading Serial Podcast is back!