James Ian Hymas

129 Humbercrest Boulevard
Toronto, Ontario
M6S 4L4

2002 has gone very quickly - as is always the case I am both amazed at how much I have done and distraught over how little I have accomplished!

The business continues to be in start-up mode. I have finished the "first stage" of my master-plan, in that I now have a fully operational (and rather sophisticated, if I do say so myself) piece of analytical software that looks at the entire investable universe of preferred shares and selects the best portfolio for the clients goals and financial situation. Results are good - but could always be better! I am now hard at work on the "second stage" ... transferring the proprietary parts to sub-programmes that can run on on an internet-connected server. In that way, I hope to generate consultancy fees from mid-size investment counsellors by selling access to the analysis. We shall see! This stuff is, unfortunately, 'bleeding-edge' technology, so I spend a good part of each workday cursing, and most of the rest sitting motionless with a puzzled frown!

I went to the Dominican Republic with brother Andrew in early March - it was very nice to get away from the cold of Toronto and feel hot for a change. A very easy holiday - I spent most of the time by the resort's pool reading (and periodically checking the market over their internet connection!); we spent a few hours go-carting at an extraordinarily cheap track a few miles from our hotel (revelling in the fact that not only did we not have to wear helmets, but that there was a cash bar between two of the courses! The People's Republic of Ontario felt very far away!); and we went para-sailing one afternoon. Yes, I found out, I really am uncomfortable at heights!

When the summer came it was time to play contractor again. With enormous help from Dad and Andrew, I completed the arbour which now covers most of the freshly-bricked driveway. I planted 15 climbing roses around the perimeter (all the "Yellow Blaze" variety) in the spring - one stem had reached the top of the arbour, eight feet up, by the time it stopped growing in late October. In a few years, I hope that the entire arbour will be a mass of blooms - which will afford something more pleasant to observe than my garage as well as providing a shaded "patio" area for me! At present, however, I admit that the major function of the arbour is to provide the squirrels a shortcut between my garage roof and the neighbors! I also planted flowering hydrangea against the house itself, and hope to have some relief from the 25-hours-per-day direct sunlight the house receives in a few short decades.

One of the highlights of getting the arbour built was the removal of a small pole used to support a laundry line in the back yard. This simple pole, no more than eight feet in height, was held in place by what proved to be a block of concrete measuring about (in feet) about 1.5 x 1.5 x 6 ... a completely ridiculous anchor that makes one wonder just what exactly the house's previous owner was in the habit of drying on the back yard line! One of the photos shows Dad and Andrew sitting on the monstrosity.

I joined two "literary" societies in the past year: Friends of Freddy, dedicated to a series of American childrens' books I adored when I was 8-10 years old, and The Henty Society, dedicated to the Victorian Adventure Story writer who was a great favorite of Dad's back in the 'forties. The difference between the two groups is a striking illustration of the differences between American and British ideals, even after allowing for the differences in subject matter: one of the major purposes of the former is to collect funds to buy books of the series for children's libraries, while the latter concentrates on building up a scholarly museum of Henty memorabilia. Either goal is quite admirable, of course - but each epitomizes to a great degree the difference in cultures.

I must also mention here one of my favourite internet sites, The Straight Dope, which has a business purpose of promoting the eponymous newspaper column syndicated to "alternative" weekly newspapers across America. The column is dedicated to discovering the truth behind everyday events. How does a fly land on a ceiling, for example? Does it maintain forward velocity and roll over, or does it perform half a loop? The site includes a very popular message board with substantial UK and Australian membership ... so if you have any nagging questions about the way things are, you now know where to ask! For example, fascinated by a brief mention of Huygens' Clock in Scientific American, I posted a question about the formulae for the period of pendulae with large amplitudes - and why the ellipsoidal cheeks on the pendulum of his clock had the effect they did. Within three hours another member on the board had referred me to an excellent mathematical site which answered my questions precisely. The Internet is a wonderful thing!

I have also become active in the internal politics of my professional association, The Association for Investment Management and Research. I have a lot of problems with the way it is being run, and so am campaigning for nomination to the Board of Governors. I cannot claim that my campaign site is the most active site on the 'Net -- but at the very least, the publicly expressed ire of my colleagues and me has catalyzed what might well prove to be significant change in the organization.

All in all, a very entertaining year. Note that the 2001 letter is still on line.

Note added 03-01-18: A buddy advised that the Internet would be almost worth-while if there was only a page with a method of preparing "pyramid graphs". So I made one.

Note added 03-04-04: I've started a joke page.

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