*1st Time Here?/FAQ*

Welcome to Observations!

This page is intended to serve as "orientation" for new readers. My hope is this will make it easier for you to more quickly learn your way around the site and make more productive use of your time here.

Intro: The obligatory "About..." Pages

About Me
About This Site

>>See sections below for: Site Navigation, Site feeds, FAQs

Site Navigation

Here are a few ways to find things on the site:
  • Most Popular Posts: Lists of the most popular posts -- overall, and by major category/subject area, are located in the sidebar on the left side of all pages. Some lists include thumbnails & snippets; all lists link to the indicated posts. (Not available on mobile devices, but see next item.)
  • Subject Area Indexes: The menu bar at the top of each page contains links to indexes for all of the major categories/subject areas -- e.g., "stock market" "bonds" etc.  (On mobile devices, this appears as a drop-down list.)  Not all categories are represented, and only the most popular posts within each category are listed.
  • 100+ Graphs / Graphical Site-Navigator: Includes snapshots of all graphs, pictures & tables. Since the graphics are an important attraction to this site, some new visitors find this to be an interesting way to explore the site. Regular readers find that it's an easy way to find a previously visited post.  (This feature is not available on mobile devices.)

    The snapshots include the title, plus a snippet from the body of the post. Click on a snapshot and link to the actual post. Links to this feature are in the blog header. For additional instructions and features see this post.
  • Recent Posts: Titles of, and links to, the 10 most recent posts. Access from the blog header or the sidebar. (On mobile devices, the header is a drop-down list; sidebars are not available.)
  • Related Material/Posts: At the end of each post, there are links to some related posts. Each link is accompanied by a brief description. These posts are "hand-picked" for relevance (i.e., it's not a computer-generated list).
  • The Full Subject Index is a traditional indented/ hierarchical list of post titles, by subject area. Each entry includes a short description, as well as a link to the post. The primary link to the index itself it is located in the blog header (drop-down list for mobile devices).
  • Search: Still not finding what you're looking for? Try "Search Blog" -- directly above the Observations "logo" at the top of the page. (Not available on mobile devices.)

Site Feeds

I have no regular publication schedule; publication frequency has varied from 8 times a month to once a month. As a result I recommend you consider "subscribing" to one of the RSS feeds; it's free. Feeds supported include Google Reader, My Yahoo, etc. Or, you can follow me on Twitter. I tweet whenever I post, and also to announce the week's "pick of the week" (an oldie post that I highlight in the sidebar). The gadgets to activate the feeds are located near the top of the sidebar.

Frequently Asked Questions

Note: The "frequently asked questions" section is still under construction.

Comment Guidelines: Why didn't you publish my comment?

I welcome constructive, civil comments -- especially if they will be useful to other readers.  "Comment spam," whose primary purpose seems to be to get a link from my site to yours will be ignored. Feel free to respond to the comments of other readers -- again, assuming you have something constructive to say.

Why am I having trouble downloading a spreadsheet?

See Are You Having Trouble Downloading the Spreadsheets?

Do you give investment advice?

This site does not give investment advice.  For many reasons....  The most obvious is that I don't know anything about you -- your current financial situation, your objectives, your risk tolerance, etc.  My orientation is not to tell you what you should do, but to share my data, tools and analysis with readers so that they can do their own analysis and make their own -- hopefully better --  decisions.

How and why do you normalize earnings and p/e ratios?

See About Normalized Earnings and Normalized P/E Ratios.

Why do you primarily analyze yearly data?

Much of my analysis covers 100 years or more so that I can focus on the "big picture." To keep the data to a manageable volume, I very rarely analyze monthly or daily data (the 1929 crash is a notable exception).

Do you analyze individual companies?

Because I am focused on the big picture, most of my stock market analysis uses stock market indexes -- typically, the Dow Jones Index.

Why do you sometimes show only part of a post?

If you have clicked on a post title, you will see the complete post. However, sometimes you are viewing multiple posts -- for example, on the home page, and in the graphical navigator. In those cases, to make it easier to see all of the retrieved posts, initially I show only the "short feed" -- the first 200 words or so. To see the complete post, click on the post title, or on "read more" at the end of the short feed.

What's the best way to find the most recent posts?

Click on Recent Posts in the blog header for titles and links. Or,
Go to the home page: click "home" or "Observations" in the blog header at the top of each page. Once on the home page, scroll down. Or,
use the graphical site navigator; the snapshots are in reverse chronological order -- i.e., most recent first.