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3 Things I Learned at ComRisk

I just got back from ComRisk 2017 in London. This is the first time we've taken out a sponsorship at a conference, and so I wasn't sure what to expect. At best, I thought I'd run into a vendor-driven, salesy conference where consultants spoke in generalities about risk.

Turns out, I was wrong. Almost everyone I talked to was genuinely interested in risk for commodities trading. Many attendees were risk managers. Most were pleasantly surprised that a conference existed just for them; the content was not as hand-wavey as they had feared. All seemed pretty stoked about the conference.

In short, I was a geek in a geeky paradise in the middle of London. Here are some things I learned:

  • SPAN is the bane of everyone's existence. There was a dude from the LME talking about how they calculate risk using SPAN (and how it differs from VaR calculations), and some very confused risk managers trying to figure out the particular way in which they hated it so much.

  • Nobody uses a single ETRM/CTRM for all their deals. I figured this would be the case by now, as you'd think most systems provide good functionality across asset classes. I guessed wrong.

  • The EEX is apparently where all the kids are trading these days. Why I didn't know this, I have no idea.

Also, I was particularly delighted by this:

ComRisk Smoothies

I had the OJ. That is all.

EventsFoodSales

Hungry Houston? HRW is Back!

You'd have to be living under a rock to not know that Houston Restaurant Weeks is just around the corner for the entire month of August. What once used to be simply "restaurant week", has been so popular over the past few years that they've made it the entire month for the fourth year in a row...and counting. August used to be THE slowest month in the restaurant industry, but thanks to HRW, it's now only second to December.

Why should you participate?

  1. The food! With 165 restaurants participating this year, there is something for everyone's palate and appetite.
  2. The prices! All dinners are either $45 or $35. Brunch is $25 and lunch is $20 which means you can try some of the hottest restaurants in town for a phenomenal price-point.
  3. The cause! For each of those meals sold the Houston Food Bank will receive $7, $5, $4 or $3, respectively. Last year, the event raised $1,285,260 for the food bank, making it the largest annual fundraiser for the organization. And this year is set to be even larger!

You can view their new-and-improved website here where they've updated to a much more user-friendly and visually-appealing site that makes perusing the restaurants and menus a breeze.

Don't forget to make reservations and mention you'll be participating in HRW. This event draws in crazy-large crowds so even some of the lesser crowded spots will be filling up.

My recommendations:

Bon app├ętit!

Food

Pizza Delivery by Drone: Am I Dreaming?

I caught wind of this article last week and have been geeking out a bit ever since. You mean, in Russia I can sit on the couch, order a pizza and in 30 minutes a little robotic arm will lower my pizza to my door, as if coming from the heavens? Noooo waaay! First Sputnik, now Pizzabot!!! Good times!

We love drone technology being put to good use - we even built one last year as a side project. One of the best energy use cases has been at BP - to use drones to survey pipelines. And it is legal - they received the first FAA permit for commercial drone flight over land in the US.

However, I am really excited about things coming to my door in 30 minutes or less, like diapers... or drinks! Now this is technology at its finest and I am hoping that Amazon gets their drone approved and up and going in no time. While the FAA isn't saying when, PrimeAir is hoping for approval sometime in 2015.

Food

Oxheart - A Well-Oiled Kitchen

At long last, I had the chance to eat at Oxheart -- Houston's infinitesimal-but-nationally-acclaimed restaurant, over the Labor Day weekend. The food was excellent (as expected) and filling (not expected). More interesting to me, however, was watching Justin Yu and his team at work in the kitchen.

Here's what I saw:

  • An incredibly disciplined kitchen.
  • Everyone being respectful of one other -- unlike you might expect after watching chefs like Gordon Ramsay on reality TV.
  • A kitchen that is not an assembly line; everyone is full-stack. Given a broad outline of the executive chef's tasks, each sous chef can complete it.
  • No rigid workflow; the course was adjusted as needed -- as people placed orders.
  • Sous chefs working as peers, yet everyone understanding the chain of command. It was kind of fun to hear, "Chef!", confirming a task when Chef Yu appointed it.

Oxheart's kitchen looked a lot like a good software shop. We've been working hard to build a similarly talented, respectful, accountable environment at Molecule, although nobody yells "Chef!" after getting instructions around here. But it's never too late to start...

Nice work, Chef Yu!

Food