Another girl thing?

Today is the day of baking.  Or more specifically, yesterday was the day of baking and today is the day of eating.  That’s right, it’s time for the Oven Glove Money Makers* bake off event (*Note: this name is a pseudonym for my workplace used to protect the innocent, namely me).  Today we will taste desserts and various sweet baked goods in a variety of forms and flavors.  I’m excited.  I was excited and hungry, but then I had lunch.  Hopefully the hungry will come back at about 3:30, Bake-off time.

There’s been quite a bit of  male/female baking rivalry as to who is the best.  And it is true that baking and cooking are often considered the natural domain of women in modern society.  And it’s also true that in my childhood, my mother made dinner almost every night of the week.  Of course, my dad did occasionally grill or otherwise char meat, and it’s true that  my mother did have her kitchen ‘helpers’ (aka child slave labor), but now looking back it seems to be a bit of an unfair distribution.  Dinner almost every night?

My current living situation is almost the exact reverse.  Mike makes the dinner when we eat at home, unless he’s sick or we’re eating at different times.  I do his laundry in exchange, but in some ways this may be unfair.  Some weeks we eat out or eat separately almost every day, while others we spend mostly at home.  The laundry is pretty much always the same.

He is a natural chef, great with flavor, and probably a better cook than me – except with vinegar,  I’m better at vinegar.  But he does feel a certain intimidation in the area of baking.  I think more of this has to do with personal experience and family tales of leaving key ingredients out of baked goods.  He views baking recipes as inflexible and more demanding than whipping up a dinner or other meal.  And at some level, I understand this – with baked goods, you don’t know if it’s right until it’s over.  There’s no fiddling with the ingredients or tasting along the way.  There’s no changing your mind halfway through the baking.  But in other ways, it’s more like an experiment – an experiment of deliciousness.  You have a hypothesis that such-and-such recipe will turn out grand.  Or, even better, you modify a recipe to make it better.  So what if the actual experiment takes 20 minutes to prepare and an hour to run?  If it fails, you’ve learned something.

Perhaps  it is this basic experimentation that attracted the male mind to the profession of ‘baker’ in former days.  Although I’m not sure that a candlestick maker would be a particularly manly profession, the profession of baker at least has the masculine appeal of its association with ‘butcher’ in the nursery rhyme.  In addition, actors such as  Nicholas Cage as Ronny Cammareri in Moonstruck or shows such as Iron Chef illustrate our fascination with those oh-so-many bakers. Sadly though, the contemporary man is not quite so enthralled with baking.  Why?  He hasn’t given up his love of sugar or things that are bad for him.  Why give up the skill?

Hedging

In English parlance, ‘hedging’ typically refers to statements made to qualify or modify a more extreme position or opinion. Hedging in the financial or investment sense is pretty much the same thing (i.e., covering your butt) but the way in which it occurs is what’s confusing.

So I’ll go over the simple part first. So, you want to invest. Maybe it’s in a stock, or even in a group of stocks, that you think will rise in price. Pretty simple, right? But, what if the market does poorly? What if there’s a universal market crash? How do you protect that investment? The answer is a hedge. A hedge is an investment you make as a protection against risk. Wikipedia has a really good example of how the actual investment might look and perform over a few days, so I won’t bother to re-describe that here. What I will mention is a bit about how the complexity of a hedge works.

A hedge is typically a ‘shorting’ of a stock, meaning a contract for the rights to stock shares in the short term. It could be a swap, an option, or a future, or some other kind of right, but it is often not the actual physical exchange of stocks. Let’s look at an example. You think F industry, of which B stock is a part, is going to do poorly. Or you just think B stock is going to do not-so-well. You would take a short position of this stock, borrowing the stock and selling it at its current market price. Then, at a predetermined or optional future date, you buy the shares back, hopefully at a lower price, and return them to the lender. If the shares of stock actually fell in value, you’ve made a profit.

The question then comes up as to what the lender of the short has gained. Probably there was some sort of money exchanged for the rights to the stock for that period of time, either a percentage or some other exchange. I’m not sure exactly how that technically works yet. Also, I’m not sure I need to. Right now I’m going to go ‘hedge my bets’ that I don’t need to know.