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Saturday, February 28, 2009

February Watch List Review

Wow, what a brutal start for the stock market this year.
Wow, so far my system and luck seem to be holding up OK.

I emphasize ‘luck’ because; even though I continue to do better than many of the major indexes, obviously much of my watch list lost money.

In fact, out of 10 February picks, only two stocks finished in the black.

Overall the list lost 6.41% for the month of February. Two of the eight losing stocks were down almost a whopping 30%.

So, who were the winners?

UEPS +7.74% (Net1 Technologies)
GME +8.55% (Gamestop)

This is the second month in a row Gamestop is up! I’ll see if they show up on my March watch list again. Maybe I should stick with all you hard core gamers out there who would rather spend money on games and online playing and do not know the meaning of recession.

As you may recall, January had two “game” themed investments on my watch list; GIGM and GME. I actually invested in both and sold both, with the idea that I would take my combined 14% return and count myself lucky. Also, I believed then, as I do now, that for the most part, the market is too volatile to buy and hold for any length of time.

Case in point; looking at my January watch list; overall I was down 5.9% for the month of January and GIGM was up 15.3% for the month. Now that same list is down 14.91% overall and GIGM lost 11.09% in February.

Looking further at my watchlists; Adobe, Gigamedia and Gamestop were the only ones which made both January and February lists. Combined, they have a less than impressive 1.82% return.

There was one big winner this past month, MOS (The Mosaic Company). I originally had sooo many stocks on my February list that I cut it down to my top 10. These were stocks that I was most interested in. MOS was on my cut list. I still do like this company and will continue watching it. For the month of February it had a 20.00% gain. This was and continues to be, in part, fueled by take-over rumors. There was an article on Seekingalpha that seemed to hint that this coming week might show some take-over news, but then again, it may just be somebody trying to spin up interest. If you are not adverse to risk and willing to take a chance, this might be worthwhile taking a gamble on in the short term. This past Friday rumors alone sent the stock up over 8% for the day.

So, (queue the drum roll) who are we going to have on the March watch list?
And which stock(s) am I going to invest in?

Stay tuned….


Is Obama the Real Thing?

Maybe, maybe not; but the administrations drink of choice certainly is….

The Obama Team's Drink of Choice?
Coke, Not Pepsi


In apparent homage to the new President, PepsiCo has plastered the sides of buses and bus stops in the nation's capital with slogans like "Yes You Can," "Optimismmmm" and "Hope." In each poster, the letter "O" is inscribed with the redesigned Pepsi logo, a red, white and blue sphere that echoes the rising sun image used by the Obama campaign.

It is not hard to interpret the message. Since 1984, Pepsi has been marketing itself as the hip, happening beverage of youth - "The Choice of a New Generation," as its longtime slogan went. And Obama, one of the youngest men to serve as President, is nothing if not hip, especially among young consumers who supported him by wide margins. Pepsi says that the campaign is not a political endorsement. "We're not interested in following political tailwinds," says Nicole Bradley, a Pepsi spokeswoman. "But we are interested in cultural change.”.

That said, the marketing campaign, which includes TV and print ads as well, does raise a question: Is Pepsi actually the choice of the Obama Administration?

My reporting at the White House suggests the answer is a resounding no. Several senior Administration officials are committed cola drinkers, and without fail they spend their days sipping from a can of Diet Coke, a product of Pepsi's chief competitor, Coca-Cola. On Monday, as members of Congress and key lobbyists filed into a briefing room for the final event of a daylong fiscal summit, they were greeted with an ice chest full of complimentary Diet Coke, not Diet Pepsi. (Montana Democratic Senator Max Baucus was one of many to grab a can.) Hours earlier, at a breakout session with members of Congress in the Indian Treaty Room, Office of Management and Budget Director Peter Orszag handled not one, but two cans of Diet Coke during the nearly two hour session. Larry Summers, Obama's top economic adviser, rarely walks anywhere in the White House complex without a can of Diet Coke in his hand. He is well known for interrupting conversations to take another swig.

But these examples do not even constitute the most damning evidence against Pepsi. Late last year, Obama's nascent Administration worked out of transition offices in a downtown government building, which was serviced by only Pepsi-brand vending machines, according to three people who worked in the building. Two Administration officials have told me that a group of Obama aides, frustrated by the security gauntlet required to go to the corner store, stocked a refrigerator with Diet Coke in open rebellion against the available options. The pattern has continued at the White House. In his West Wing office, like his previous office at Harvard University, Summers has a refrigerator stocked with cans of the decidedly non-Pepsi beverage.

Though Pepsi is available in the West Wing mess, it is rarely, if ever, seen out in the open. On Thursday, the recycling bin outside White House Spokesman Robert Gibbs' office contained six cans of Diet Coke and one can of Sprite Zero, which is also a Coca-Cola product. In another part of the building, I asked one White House official, who had a can of Diet Coke sitting on his desk, if the Obama Administration had a clear bias for Coke over Pepsi. "I think that's true," the official responded, with a smile. "Don't most Americans?"

To a certain degree, yes. Nationwide, Coke is more popular that Pepsi, but not by the same margin seen among White House staff. Beverage Digest, a trade publication, reported that Coke and Diet Coke had a 27.2% market share of the carbonated beverage market in 2007, compared with a 16.7% share for Pepsi and Diet Pepsi.

As an official matter, the U.S. Government is usually non-partisan in the cola wars. In congressional office buildings, both Coke and Pepsi products are sold at vending machines, as they are in the waiting room at Andrews Air Force Base, where reporters wait to board Air Force One. In the air, the President's personal flight crew offers either cola to passengers. Nor is soda the only option for officials working in the White House. Several members of the press operation keep going with a steady diet of coffee, while one younger member of the White House web team was spotted recently walking to work with a case of Kombucha, a fermented tea drink sold at health food stores.

The health-conscious President is not known to have a strong preference for either Coke or Pepsi - though he was spotted at one debate sipping from a bottle of Aquafina water, which is made by PepsiCo. Obama is, however, a well-known fan of Honest Tea, a drink made by a company that is 40% owned by Coca-Cola.


Friday, February 27, 2009

Dear Mr Snyder

As a born and raised Redskins fan let me be the first to congratulate you and the organization for making such a bold offseason, free agency move.

The way I figure it, provided he stays healthy and gives 100%, Albert Haynesworth will be making approximately $1,000,000 per tackle next year.

And being the true and caring fan that I am, I also know that there are other positions on the team which need new and talented blood.

So, I have a suggestion…

Let me be the first to provide you an excellent choice. He is a team leader, has proven experience as both TE, and Safety; is willing to move inside on the offensive line to help out at Guard or Tackle; and even has a good enough arm to have gotten some work as a 2nd string QB. This person will give 100% effort every single play, of every single game, and, heck, even every single practice. In fact he is even willing to play on both offense and defense in order to give you and the organization the biggest bang for the buck.

Yes, that person would be me!

And lets not forget about the all important media attention and image that I will bring to the organization. I am a dedicated family man, have been married for over 20 years – to the same woman, and I have never been in trouble with the law, been inappropriately photographed, or been accused of taking illegal drugs or being a candidate for an anger management program.

Now this by no means that I am dull or boring!

In fact, I promise to make multiple highlight reels on both the local and national sports channels including ESPN. Yes, you, Vinni, and 80,000 screaming fans will shake your heads in disbelieve as I make move after unbelievably enthusiastic football move. My body will be flying all over the field trying to make tackles, block huge, powerful charging linemen and diving into the dirt to catch every ball tossed my way.

In fact, I would gladly do this for you, Vinni, and all sports fans around the world. And all it would cost you is $1,000,000 per tackle or catch.

I’m sure I’d be able to make at least one of those during the season….


Fun Strip Friday


MEME from A-Z

OK, so my wife, and about am billion other people on the internet are doing these meme things. So, in an effort to not seem out of place or out of touch with the 'in' crowd out there; here goes my fumbled-returns blog version.
Maybe I should call it my BB ...

A – Attitude
B – Ball Down!, ‘Be the Ball’
C – COULD-GO-ALL-THE-WAY, Cheerleader (OK so I don’t think Chris Berman ever intended for those two phrases to be used in the same sentence…)
D – D-Fence, Down
E – End Zone
F – Fumbled Returns, Football, FORE!
G – Golf, GOAL, no such thing as a Gimmy
H – Halftime, Hockey, Hut-Hut-Hike
I – Not in Team
J – Jump!
K – Kick
L – LMAO, Lucky shot
M – Money
N – Nickel-Back (and no, I do not mean the rock band)
O – X
P – Punt, Pass, oh and Practice
Q – Quiet (sorry I just can’t say quit when talking about sports)
R – Run, Replay
S – Safety, Sideline, Shirts & Skins, Sportscenter
T – Tiger Woods, Put the ball on the…
U – Umpire
V – Victory
W – Wedge, Win
X – O
Y – Yellow flag
Z – Zebra


Thursday, February 26, 2009

Big Bang Theory….

And my own version of a trickle down theory and possibly even the butterfly effect.

All of which is inspired by an article I came across on MSN.

Fear of Obama drives gun stocks higher
by Anthony Mirhaydari

Here are some snippets and my comments…

“Over the last week, while the S&P 500 is down 2%, are Firearm companies such as Smith & Wesson (SWHC), Cabela (CAB), and Rugers (RGR) are up 30% – 50%.”

“Rising concern over increased regulation from the Obama White House has gun buffs stocking up on the latest tactical rifles and pistols.”

“Gun sales increased 81% in the fourth quarter on new products and "robust firearms demand."

“Much of the sales increase has been in self-defense firearms like military-type semi-automatics or pistols. Sales of traditional bolt-action hunting rifles and shotguns remain steady.”

This may be true and I certainly can see all the hardcore gun enthusiasts being worried that bans on assault and automatic weapons will be re-instated.; however, he further states that…

“Many of these customers are first-time buyers who "have never had a handgun in their home but believe now ... is a good time to buy them."

In other words...
People aren't looking to hunt deer or collect soon to be ‘hard to find’ military style weapons; they're worried about other people.

Let me say here that even though I do not own any firearms, I am a supporter of the 2nd amendment and hunting. Most avid hunters and gun owners I know, take gun ownership very seriously. I have no fear of these people or the guns they own. But as he stated in the article, it does not appear that these are the people buying up all these weapons.

It’s everyone else I’m afraid of!

Now back to the article…

“As the economic picture darkens, it's more than possible people will stop fearing our new president and start worrying about a Mad Max-like apocalyptic scenario.

Just look the huge increase in the popularity of gold. Sales of the popular American Eagle gold coin are up four-fold while commodity investors are increasingly opting for physical delivery of gold bullion instead of settling futures contracts in cash. Bankers are reporting that more clients are hoarding gold in their vaults.

Sure, this is crazy. But remember that humans aren't rational and that fear is the strongest of all emotions.”

He ends the article with the following…

“Forget traditional defensive sectors like utilities and healthcare. Go with guns and gold.”

I disagree. In fact I think he gives good cause to research many other sectors.
(Here’s my trickle down theory…)

With all the guns, ammunition will be in demand, as well as skilled gun smiths and gun safes. Oh wait, I forgot all these folks are first time buyers worried about home invasion and robberies. So they will not be buying safes for their guns. Instead they will just be keeping them in their sock drawers and under the mattress (see Select Comfort SCSS, and Sealy ZZ)

But I think safes are still worth investigating because people want a secure place for all the gold they are hoarding. And don’t forget locksmiths and security companies to help keep all those bad guys out. Such as: DAC Technologies Group International Inc (DAAT.OB), Sentry Technology Corp. (SKVY.OB), Tyco International Ltd. (TYC), Ingersoll-Rand Co. Ltd. (IR).

Shooting ranges should see an increase in business too. And, at the risk of offending folks (even more), once you are done shooting around with all the good ol boys at the range, what better way to continue the camaraderie; than to go to the local bar. Alcohol companies such as Diageo plc (DEO), Constellation Brands Inc. (STZ) should benefit.

It is well documented that alcohol sales increase during tough economic times. Just Google “economy alcohol sales” and see all the articles you get.

The Mad Max syndrome offers other clues for research too.
Fuel will be in demand; Exxon (XOM)
Water will be in demand; For clean bottled water - Coca-Cola Bottling Co. Consolidated (COKE) would be a good mainstream choice.
You can also play more on the utility side with the following: Itron (ITRI), Badger Meter (BMI) and Roper Industries (ROP). In fact there is a fund out there designed just for this niche. PowerShares Water Resources Portfolio (PHO).
Food will be in demand - I prefer plays such as Monsanto Co. (MON) and Mosaic Co. (MOS).

And despite his avoidance of the healthcare sector; with all these gun slinging folks walking around with whisky bottles, the need for medical supplies Covidien, Ltd. COV) and Becton, Dickinson and Company (BDX) will never be greater.


No, No, No and please No!

Rumor: Redskins to back up the truck for Albert Haynesworth

“This time around [the source] tells me that the Washington Redskins break the bank to sign Albert Haynesworth. The Titans could come over the top of the Redskins deal as well, but my guess is that the Redskins will let Haynesworth get the best offer possible from the Titans and then "better deal" it.
My source tells me to look for a contract that could break $100 million with an average of $15 million to $16 million per. “

That’s really nice, but HOW?

Washington has reworked the contracts of tackle Chris Samuels, defensive tackle Cornelius Griffin, defensive end Andre Carter and wide receiver Antwaan Randle El, and also released linebacker Marcus Washington in an attempt to improve its cap situation, but it remains among the worst in the NFL. The salary cap for the 2009 season will increase to $127 million, roughly $4 million higher than many projections, which provides some relief, but the Redskins entered last week over the cap.

Tennessee, Atlanta, Detroit and Tampa Bay are other teams that have Haynesworth atop their wish lists, according to league sources, with most of those clubs having exponentially more cap space than the Redskins with which to complete deals.

Tampa Bay released five high-priced veterans yesterday, including 11-time Pro Bowl linebacker Derrick Brooks, and is $60 million under the projected cap. The Buccaneers potentially could make a massive offer to Haynesworth and still possess the resources to pursue other top-tier free agents.

There are alternatives….

The Redskins reportedly have significant interest in Dallas defensive end Chris Canty, according to league sources, who would be a far less expensive alternative to Haynesworth.

Canty, 26, who started all 16 games and had three sacks last season for the Cowboys, is regarded as a younger, more dynamic version of Redskins veteran Phillip Daniels, according to a team source. He could occupy multiple blockers and stuff the run on first and second downs, rush from the inside on third downs and would be much more cost-effective than Haynesworth. The role Canty could fill for the Redskins was Demetric Evans's job last season, which could explain why the team has not extended a contract offer to Evans with him eligible for free agency.

And other more important needs…

Read my lips “OFFENSIVE LINE”. This is what you need to give Jason Campbell and Portis room and time to be effective. Last year this, not your defense, was your Achilles heel.

The offensive line is in need of am overhaul. However, Snyder and Cerrato are not expected to pursue the linemen expected to command big contracts, such as left tackle Marvel Smith and guard Chris Kemoeatu of the Pittsburgh Steelers, and versatile Baltimore Ravens offensive lineman Jason Brown. Cincinnati Bengals right tackle Stacy Andrews, who underwent reconstructive knee surgery last month, could be in the Redskins' budget. Green Bay Packers tackle Mark Tauscher, also coming off injury, could be another option as a value player. Stalwart center Jeff Saturday of the Indianapolis Colts is willing to play guard, his agent said, and could be seen as a value pickup.

And please please do not forget what is coming up in April!

The NFL Draft. There are a decent number of candidates out there to address both the offensive and defensive line positions.


Wednesday, February 25, 2009

I give up....

It is now officially Lent.

So, here are some ideas of things to give up...



This may be asking the impossible. Though, if you're anything like me, this would be quite the sacrifice. How many hours a day do you spend reading about sports? How many games and television shows (Sportscenter) do you watch? Instead, use that time and spend it with the people that you love.

I, for one, know that my wife would love it if I gave up sports for Lent.
Man, I hope she's not reading this article.



Though this may not be a bad idea given that the market is intent on killing all returns from the past 10 years!

Myspace, Facebook, Youtube:

OK, maybe...

At this point I'd like to welcome all you 'former' internet socialites to the ancient community app that started it all: BLOGGER!

Alcohol, Ice Cream and Soda:

I am setting the lofty goal(s) for all three!
Hey, it's fat Tuesday as I am writing this, so, guess what I am indulging in....
Thank god for spell check!

And, not to alienate all those other great ideas and sport celebrities...
Note: I am not giving up Ranting or trying to be Humorous ;-)
Though, after this post, maybe I should...

Colorado Avalanche are giving up......Winning any games the rest of the season.

Brett Favre is giving up......Playing in the NFL....or is he?

Alex Rodriguez is giving up......Naming names in the steroids scandal.

Ben Roethlisberger is giving up......scrambling.

Minnesota Vikings are giving up......2009 Season by attempting to sign QB Sage Rosenfels.

Bill Belichick is giving up......polos and button down shirts.

Detroit Lions are giving up......that's it...just giving up.


Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Ready... PULL !!

- My Leg... and other body parts...

Dellucci's 'alligator', Guillen's nail kick off weird spring injuries
From the Big League Stew...

Spring training is only a week old, but we already have strong two entries for baseball's weirdest injury of the year.

Well, kind of.

Cleveland outfielder David Dellucci, our first contestant, would have no doubt clinched the award with the tale he told reporters on Saturday of how an alligator chomped his thumb while he was saving a child — if only it were true.

From the Associated Press:

"Right before I came here," Dellucci explained, "I was fishing on the side of my lake, and I heard a little boy screaming. I ran over there, and an alligator had him by the leg. I jumped on the gator, poked him in the eyes, freed the kid, but he [bit] me in my thumb. I got stitches, had surgery and the stitches will come out on Monday."

Dellucci had reporters sold on the story, but his conscience got the better of him and he broke the silence with a well-placed "just kidding." Turns out Dellucci slammed his hand in a trailer tailgate before leaving his home in Louisiana and had to get three stitches that will cause him to miss the beginning of Cactus League play.

When it comes to our second contestant, Kansas City outfielder Jose Guillen, we can only wish he were just kidding about his self-inflicted injury earlier this week. When told by team doctors that an ingrown nail on his right big toe might require surgery, Guillen took matters into his own hands and removed the nail by himself with a pair of tweezers later that night.

At this point, I'll pause so that you can all recollect your thoughts, your dinner and whatever else you might have lost ....

All good, now? No? Well, let's move onto Guillen's recollection of the "surgery," via The Kansas City Star anyway:

"Let me tell you, I cried. I had one tough hour. But I got it out."

"I reached in there (with the tweezers) ... and poked around until I got the end of it. Then I counted one, two, three and just pulled .... Oh, my God. It came out, but tears were running down my cheeks."

Not that the story needs any more context — I'm sure most of you have already clicked off the page in digust by now — but here' a short conversation that Y! Sports' own Jeff Passan had with his own mother, who works as a nurse:

JP: "How much would it hurt to yank your big toenail out with a pair of tweezers?"
JP's mom: "They have a word for that. Torture."
JP: "So someone who would do that himself ..."
JP's mom: " ... is crazy."

Guillen's toe is currently being treated with antibiotics, but he has has since developed a sore shoulder and was limited to light conditioning work Saturday in Arizona. No word yet on whether Guillen plans to scope the shoulder himself with assorted kitchen utensils ...


Monday, February 23, 2009

Time out to help a fellow blogger

All he needs is a good home...


Sunday, February 22, 2009

Get Psyched !!!

It's time to get psyched about sports again!

With all the bad press Maryland has gotten lately, it's nice to see something good happen with their game. And, even though I went to college in NC, I am a born and raised Maryland fan.


Maryland 88

(#3) North Carolina 85

Of course there were other great games which helped stir the post season pot as well...

Big 12 Action... Texas 73 Oklahoma 68
PAC 10 Action... Washington State 82 UCLA 81

But who cares about those ;-)

GO ACC !!!

And, as if March Madness was not enough to get ones sports blood flowing again...


With golf tournament attendance down as much as 30% and PGA TV ratings down as much as 50%, the Tiger Woods Stimulus Plan is just what they need to get ratings back on track.

And last but certainly not least...
Hockey is entering the final stretch towards the post season and, at least around here, all attention will be focused on the CAPS!!!


Saturday, February 21, 2009

What's your name?

Ok, I know this is sooo off-topic for my blog but sometimes things happen (more than once) that it just has too be some sort of cosmic force that needs to be commented on...

So, this week I saw this news blurb about Guitar Hero misspelling Lynyrd Skynyrd...

Look for the name in the background left of center.

Then, I heard an announcement for Eric Clapton and Steve Winwood appearing at Verizon Center in June. My wife and I usually try to go out to one big or special event a year, usually on or near a birthday or anniversary (ours is in July) - Close enough...

So, I went out to ticketmaster to try and score some tickets and low and behold....


Of course none of this really matters, in the grand cosmic scheme of things, but it is truly unbelievable and I bet both companies are laughing all the way back to the bank.


Lie to me...

No, I am not talking about the TV show...

In this case I am referencing an article called The 5 biggest lies on Wall Street by Michael Brush. I have highlighted excerpts and give my take on each as well as his…

Big Lie No. 1: The market will take care of everything.

My take:
I keep thinking of an example from the little book which recounts the professor asking his lecture class about graphs of stocks. It doesn't matter which one you look at (pick one). “Why does the chart go up and down all the time?”. The professor got all the good answers about valuation, supply and demand, earnings reports, product pipeline, etc etc...

The real answer is - “because the market has no idea what any particular stock is worth at any particular point in time.”

Yes, we can use all the good market analysis techniques to make “educated” guesses, but it still comes down to speculation.

Of course, what would be nice to go along with all this educated speculation would be proper regulation and oversight? But that did not happen...

Wall Street lobbyists persuaded would-be regulators to lay off. "The markets". They and the market would find the best solutions to any problems on their own. We convinced ourselves that the inmates could regulate themselves. Perhaps the biggest gaffe was allowing a multitrillion-dollar market in credit default swaps. In the free-for-all that ensued, the Wall Street Masters of the Universe made untold millions -- and left us with huge problems. The damage caused by all the tricks, scams and skullduggery has cost more than $7 trillion in market losses so far, not to mention millions of jobs and a deep recession. Of course, none of this could have happened if regulators hadn't looked the other way as mortgage originators handed home loans to anyone who could fog a mirror.

Big Lie No. 2: The 'experts' will help you.

My take:
When I first started investing, I did like most: bought a couple mutual funds and passively let others do my thinking.

Over time, I realized that I could do just as well if not better than some, on my own. Yes, it required more work and more thought, but hey, what’s wrong with some good ol' fashion work, research and actually thinking about things and coming to your own conclusions...

Most mutual funds are down as much as the market -- or worse. The geniuses running hedge funds did little better. A few commentators managed to forecast the market disaster; most missed it. There's a simple reason why they missed the coming carnage.The "experts" have conflicts of interest. Mutual funds, hedge funds and brokerages want to keep you at the table so that they can continue to earn fees from your nest egg. " They don't care if you win or lose; they just want you to keep playing the game.”
The media don't get a free pass either. Media outlets such as CNBC, and presumably this Web site (MSN Money), regularly fall short in guiding investors because their real priority is to provide entertainment -- and that they have to dumb things down too much to keep content interesting.

My take: (continued)
I am not so sure about his MSN Money reference. I don’t think the Money section of the site is soooo bad. MSN Money does want readers / viewers to keep coming back to their site. They do need to keep their content somewhat entertaining, if not interesting.

After all, I keep reading them because over time I have found some to have good insight and ideas. Also, the site has helped me in my research and screens.

I would however; put Cramer and Motley Fool into the dumb down and sacrifice content for entertainment category…

Big Lie No. 3: Buy and hold.

My take:
I actually used to follow this more closely than I do now. After all, one of the ‘rules’ from the little book is to buy and hold for at least a year. About the only thing I hold now is cash...

I did however stick to my 20 – 20 rule, more importantly the bottom 20% rule and sold as soon as a stock I owned lost 20%. Unfortunately I did not always follow the top 20% rule and ended up missing out on taking my profits when I had them. Lesson learned...

Think of it this way. Lets say we use a nice easy modest but good number of 10%. Would you be happy if, when you made money you were guaranteed to make at least 10%. Sure! If you could be guaranteed to never lose more than 10% would you be happy? Maybe, just so long as you didn’t continuously loose 10% over and over again…

If a stock hits your goal of return, be happy that you were right and take your money. If you were wrong, be happy you did not loose your shirt.

If you think you can be right again, you can always reinvest it.

Anyone who has followed this advice since the late 1990s now feels deceived."Buy and hold" once seemed so obvious. Over the long haul, stocks advance 10% to 12% a year, goes the mantra. So you can't ever go wrong adding money to stock funds.Then the level of risk in the stock market changed violently. But investors -- or their financial advisers -- didn't adjust their portfolios away from stocks toward safer assets like cash, "If the risks in the markets change, your investment allocations must also change.”

Big Lie No. 4: Overpaid CEOs are worth the money.

My take: - I’ll just site the article on this one…

Company PR machines trot out the old saw that pay has to be so high "to attract the best talent."Oh, really?An extreme under appreciation of his problems; At Lehman Bros.' very last annual meeting in April 2008, the then-CEO Richard Fuld opined that "the worst of the impact of the financial markets is behind us.” In June, he told investors the investment bank was "well-positioned" because of efforts to strengthen its balance sheet. Yet by autumn, Lehman vanished, setting off the October 2008 market crash. It had been killed by mortgage-backed securities and other investments made on Fuld's watch. The cost of moving too fast; On Sept. 15, Bank of America CEO Ken Lewis announced that the banking giant was buying Merrill Lynch, saying the deal -- cobbled together over a weekend -- was "a great opportunity" for shareholders because together the companies would be "more valuable" due to synergies. Bank of America reported a $21.5 billion fourth-quarter loss. The government responded by injecting $20 billion in new capital into Bank of America, and guaranteeing $118 billion in potential losses from the Merrill Lynch deal.

What seems clear is that these executives were blissfully ignorant of the growing risks to their businesses or simply chose to ignore them. They were rewarded for hitting benchmarks on cost cutting, pretax income and operating cash flow.
None of this is new. CEOs have been collecting big bucks for lousy performances for years.

Big Lie No. 5: Buy a flat-screen TV, save the economy.

My take:
On this is a little bit different than his but overall similar. Let me explain.
I think, for good reasons, that the pendulum has swung too far the other way. Before it was too far towards ‘debt is OK’. Now, it is too far towards hoard all your cash…

Rather, some of the same old mantras should still be followed…

- Don’t spend more than your earn
- Save for a rainy day
- Set goals, be flexible and more importantly it’s ok to reward yourself once in a while.

Maybe the biggest lie about to be fed on people is that they should go out and shop to save the economy. Wall Street wants you to spend to pump up the economy. Much of the federal stimulus package enacted this week entails tax breaks and handouts to get people spending.But it's really just another big lie to tell people they'll make a difference if they go out and shop.The problem is that the economy is going nowhere -- no matter how much anyone spends -- until someone comes up with a plan to give the banks enough of a capital cushion so they start lending again. So far, we haven't seen that happen.So play it safe. Hold on to your money. Most of you need to save more for retirement, anyway.


Friday, February 20, 2009

Twitter Ball....

OK, We have our own version of Casual Friday at work. We call it Fun Shirt Friday.
So, I thought I would do my own verison of it for my blog...

Welcome to the first installment of Fun-Strip Fridays!

Exhibit 1:
What's next in the evolution of football technology?

Ha! July 2009 update... Thanks to Ocho texto...


Thursday, February 19, 2009

GOAL !!!

Just in case you missed it...

Alex Ovechkin's Goal !!!


Programs ! Get your Programs !

Or in this case... A free book !!!

In this article, "3 ways to make money in a downturn", Andrew Horowitz gives examples of how he has played this volitile market and made money. Now, some of his techniques I do not do - such as shorting stocks, however; his methods and experiences are very similar to mine.

Lets start with the "3 ways"...

  1. Be disciplined. Set a price to buy and a price to sell whenever you make a move, and stick to them. Don't get attached to any stock. Don't waver.
  2. Be nimble. Lazy portfolios do not make it in a market like this. Everyday investors are often told not to trade and particularly not to sell short. In a tough market, you have to move fast.
  3. Be flexible. I refused to abide by a single strategy over the past few months and realized that opportunities lie in unusual places in a market like this. I shorted municipal bonds and bought prefered stocks.

As for me...

Disciplined: I have set both buy and sell prices for all my pics, and pretty much stuck to them. Though...

Nimble: I have to pay more attention to the weekly, even daily, activity and trends. I have missed a couple early opportunities to either buy or sell if I had alerts set properly. I am also re-thinking my 20-20 rule and perhaps making it closer to 15-15 instead.

Flexible: Which I primarily have in keeping to my handful of screens which have turned up many interesting possibilities that I normally would not look at.

As I have said, I think the market is way too volatile to invest right now for the long term. And if you actually look at my January list; long term may be proving to be greater than 30 days, since most of those stocks which gained are now back in the red.

And now for the freebie goodies...

There is a link in his article which allows you to download his book for free. For a limited time of course. But hey, free it free !!!


Wednesday, February 18, 2009

It's not Dead, But it was fun while it lasted...

A-11 (January 2007 - February 2009)
Here in lies
A great example of innovation...
Heads up coaching...
Always striving to improve the game...

Until the next time...
R.I.P (Real Inventive Play)


Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Save, Trade and Earn.

Ok, here is a continuation of my previous post with some other interesting and cost saving ideas and sites....

Zilok. Weird name but incredibly cool concept, Zilok is basically eBay for rentals. You can rent your stuff out or rent someone else's stuff for a day. For owners, get more out of your purchases -- just a few rentals could pay for the item. For renters, you can save money by renting, instead of buying, seldom-used items. Stuff like canoes, laptops, cameras, cars, books, baby strollers, and everything in between is available for rent from someone near you.

Shop It To Me. It's like having your own personal shopper constantly on the lookout for sales. Rather than scour through all the deals on the web, create your own wish list of clothes, then wait for a bargain to appear. Select your size, brand and other preferences, and Shop It To Me will e-mail you when there's a relevant sale. This is perfect for lazy but cheap shoppers like me.

UPromise. Save money and build a college fund at the same time. You get 1% to 25% back from shopping online through UPromise, or by shopping at more than 30,000 offline restaurants, drugstores and supermarkets. Your discounted savings can be automatically deposited into a 529 college savings plan.

Covestor. Covestor lets you follow the trades of other investors. Piggyback off proven winners to grow your wealth. If you're one of those proven winners, Covestor will pay you for every person who follows your stock trades.

BeatThat! This site, 100% community driven, rewards members for finding the lowest price with cold, hard cash. It's the perfect shortcut for deal hunters who don't want to endlessly search the internet to verify the best price on a product. Because deal hounds all over the Web are getting bounties for finding better deals -- versus a staff that may not be giving it 110% -- you'll find some really great bargains here. And if you're one of those deal hounds, you could make some beer money for all that time you spend at those deal sites.

Freecycle. One man's trash is another man's treasure. Find your location and see if anyone is giving away something you need, and vice versa. It's a great way to be green and frugal at the same time.

Smart Hippo. Smart Hippo is a community of people who post their reviews of mortgages, banks and lenders. You can use this information to find the best rates and loan officers in your area.

BillShrink. Get a list of cell phone plans or credit cards that are better than what you have in less than five minutes. Answer a few questions about your current credit card or cell phone plan (or have BillShrink do it automatically by uploading your last statement), and BillShrink will recommend better phone plans or credit cards that fit your needs.

SmartyPig. It's a hands-free savings account for specific goals or purchases. You set a goal and choose the amount you want to contribute each month to reach that goal, and SmartyPig automatically pulls that amount from your checking account each month. You can make your goals public to friends and family so they can contribute to your goal if they want to. Just like a savings account at your local bank, SmartyPig pays interest on the money deposited, and all deposits are insured by the FDIC. You can withdraw your money at any time via a debit card or electronic transfer.

excerpts from 10 innovative sites that save you money by Karen Datko


Monday, February 16, 2009

Read my mind…

Maybe it is because I am in the middle of tax season…
Maybe, because of tax season, I always start thinking about charting finances…
Maybe, because when I start thinking about charting finances I start looking around at alternatives to my spreadsheet(s)…

But MSN had a pretty good article on just this topic. And I actually kind of like some of their suggestions, but I will probably sleep on it and see if I really want to break away from my good ol’ free spreadsheets…

Here is a list sites mentioned in the article… The one they like the most, seems well thought out and planned and claims to be 100% free and had some interesting, if not glitzy, blogs/discussion posts.

Geezeo and Wesabe put the power and appeal of social networking sites, along with a good dose of peer review, to help you keep track of finances, and goals.

BudgetTracker and BudgetPulse are for you paranoid and suspicious folks, such as myself (well, maybe not soooo paranoid) that we are not about to give out any personal information. For this you enter stuff in manually. They also give you a “limited free setup” with the hopes that you will pay for more.

Buxfer is a site that specializes in group budgeting and IOUs among friends. They even have Facebook application where you can invite friends and receive credits for upgrades to your account.

I think I’ll set up a couple accounts on these “free” sites and see how I like them and then report back with my own review(s).

As you can see, even this list of free sites has some examples of baiting you with free sign up and then charging for extras, or even the features that you really want.

I think I already know which ones I will automatically forgo signing up and test driving…

One other thing I have noticed over the years is that even the free sites, though they may not charge any extras, when you start tracking transactions online with logins and downloads; some institutions will charge you an online banking fee for this convenience.

Hence my use of spreadsheets….

Anyway, here is the article…


Sunday, February 15, 2009

Get a Real Dog...

OK, so there is a running joke in our household regarding "get a real dog".
I usually bring this topic up when other folks start watching all the dog competition shows on TV.

Well, since this week seemed to be dominated with dog photos and TV listings from various dog shows, I thought I would post a short compilation...

Welcome to the first episode of....

Real Dog or Not.


Saturday, February 14, 2009

Give some SAKS for Valentines Day

Romance your Valentine with these sweet stock buys
By Gergana Koleva, MarketWatch

NEW YORK (MarketWatch) -- The staple offerings of Valentine gifts are on display everywhere: from crimson teddy bears at your neighborhood drugstore to the velvety fare of Godiva's chocolates to the cool, robin-egg hued sparkle of Tiffany's. Add to that the perennial appeal of a dozen overpriced long-stem roses and you're forgiven if finding a present for your partner reminds you of a multiple choice test.

But love comes in more ways than red, sweet and sparkle. If you're looking for a unique gift idea for your Valentine this year, it may be worth remembering that the two of you are joined not just by your hearts but by your wallets. For some, there's nothing that says "I love you" like a stock certificate putting your spouse's favorite jewelry or lingerie brand in her hands.

"We have everything, we've given each other everything, and we've reached a point where we rack our brains every time Valentine's Day comes around," said Lee Comer, a retired owner of a marketing agency in Toledo, Ohio. He has been giving his wife stock of Saks (SKS: saks inc com SKS ) and Tiffany & Co. (TIF:Tiffany & Co.TIF ) every February 14 for the last 25 years. This year, he is showing his love with 100 shares of Saks.

"The first time I did it, she didn't know what to think. Then she started really looking forward to it," Comer said, explaining that he chose those two companies because his wife loves shopping at those stores. To him, giving a stock certificate to your spouse can be no less romantic than surprising him or her with a thoughtful present, especially if the shares are of a brand he or she particularly likes.

Though it does take some getting used to, the idea of pampering your partner with shares instead of a shiny diamond is hardly new. It is a fairly popular gift that can be very intriguing, according to Alan Lancz of Alan B. Lancz & Associates, a money management firm.

"Companies like Tiffany and Limited Brands make for a great Valentine's gift because of their growth potential," says Lancz. "They are divesting less efficient operations, so if you're looking at it from a long-term perspective, say two to three years, you might want to pursue that idea."

Sweetheart stocks to love

In his annual look at public companies whose earnings typically get a boost from the sentiments surrounding Valentine's Day, Brent Wilsey of Wilsey Asset Management in Poway, Calif., a Linsco/Private Ledger Corp. affiliate, says the following three companies will melt your lover's heart but not your brokerage account:

FTD Group Inc. (FTD: FTD ) Growth looks good for this company. Investors will enjoy a 5.1% dividend and revel in the knowledge that the floral product provider uses only half its earnings to pay out the juicy yield. Return on equity looks good at 15% and the company's sales seem to be on track, increasing 19% year-over-year.

Steiner Leisure. (STNR: STNR ) This spa service provider has experienced good growth of sales and earnings, which are up 15% and 11% respectively, both well above the industry average. 2007 earnings per share are estimated at $2.64, and 2008 EPS is expected to jump to $2.99. The Nassau, Bahamas-based company, which has 53 resort spas and two day spas as well as a presence on 126 cruise ships, carries no debt on the balance sheet and has returned 27% on equity over the previous 12 months.

Limited Brands. (LTD: LTD ) The parent of the Victoria's Secret line is poised for growth, with return on equity at 33% compared with the industry average of 23%. The company pays a healthy dividend of 3.2% using only 30% of its earnings and its stock trades around 10 times current earnings. However, with debt-to-equity at 140%, debt could be a problem, so watch it closely.

While these stocks could benefit anyone's portfolio, when bought expressly as a Valentine's gift they are more likely to end up in women's hands.

Wonder what to buy your guy? How about shares of...

Best Buy (BBY: Best Buy Co. Inc BBY )

Coach (COH: coach inc com COH )

"Being romanced by public companies that profit from our affection for one another is easy, and these stocks certainly don't play hard to get,".


Mid Month Review - Feb Watch Lists

OK, so here is my mid month review....

My watch list is trailing my cut list (barely) due to a less than enthusiastic response to SCOR quarterly report.

Thankfully I did not invest in them... Though I was tempted.

I took last months gains from Gamestop (GME) and invested in Net 1 technologies (UEPS).I am still tempted by eHealth (EHTH) and Graftech (GTI).

eHealth continues to post impressive results regardless of economic conditions and stands a good chance of added business with Obama's planned reforms.

Graftech also continues to impress and seems to be very strong on the rebound even in today's economy.

Both companies also pocess impressive balance sheets and product lines.

For now, I am keeping GIGM and UEPS while maintaining a positive outlook and entry point back into GME as well as both EHTH and GTI.


Friday, February 13, 2009

Good Things Come in Threes...

I know, this has nothing to do with sports or stocks, but I felt compelled to publish a second post today. If for no other reason, even though my first post did have one saving charitable virtue, this one might be less offensive to some....

13 Facts About Friday the 13th
By LiveScience Staff

If you fear Friday the 13th, then batten down the hatches. This week's unlucky day is the first of three this year.

The next Friday the 13th comes in March, followed by Nov. 13. Such a triple whammy comes around only every 11 years, said Thomas Fernsler, a math specialist at the University of Delaware who has studied the number 13 for more than 20 years.

By the numbers
Here are 13 more facts about the infamous day, courtesy of Fernsler and some of live science own research:

1. The British Navy built a ship named Friday the 13th. On its maiden voyage, the vessel left dock on a Friday the 13th, and was never heard from again.

2. The ill-fated Apollo 13 launched at 13:13 CST on Apr. 11, 1970. The sum of the date's digits (4-11-70) is 13 (as in 4+1+1+7+0 = 13). And the explosion that crippled the spacecraft occurred on April 13 (not a Friday). The crew did make it back to Earth safely, however.

3. Many hospitals have no room 13, while some tall buildings skip the 13th floor.

4. Fear of Friday the 13th — one of the most popular myths in science — is called paraskavedekatriaphobia as well as friggatriskaidekaphobia. Triskaidekaphobia is fear of the number 13.

5. Quarterback Dan Marino wore No. 13 throughout his career with the Miami Dolphins. Despite being a superb quarterback (some call him one of the best ever), he got to the Super Bowl just once, in 1985, and was trounced 38-16 by the San Francisco 49ers and Joe Montana (who wore No. 16 and won all four Super Bowls he played in).

6. Butch Cassidy, notorious American train and bank robber, was born on Friday, April 13, 1866.

7. Fidel Castro was born on Friday, Aug. 13, 1926.

8. President Franklin D. Roosevelt would not travel on the 13th day of any month and would never host 13 guests at a meal. Napoleon and Herbert Hoover were also triskaidekaphobic, with an abnormal fear of the number 13.

9. Superstitious diners in Paris can hire a quatorzieme, or professional 14th guest.

10. Mark Twain once was the 13th guest at a dinner party. A friend warned him not to go. "It was bad luck," Twain later told the friend. "They only had food for 12."

11. Woodrow Wilson considered 13 his lucky number, though his experience didn't support such faith. He arrived in Normandy, France on Friday, Dec. 13, 1918, for peace talks, only to return with a treaty he couldn't get Congress to sign. (The ship's crew wanted to dock the next day due to superstitions, Fernsler said.) He toured the United States to rally support for the treaty, and while traveling, suffered a near-fatal stroke.

12. The number 13 suffers from its position after 12, according to numerologists who consider the latter to be a complete number — 12 months in a year, 12 signs of the zodiac, 12 gods of Olympus, 12 labors of Hercules, 12 tribes of Israel, 12 apostles of Jesus, 12 days of Christmas and 12 eggs in a dozen.

13. The seals on the back of a dollar bill include 13 steps on the pyramid, 13 stars above the eagle's head, 13 war arrows in the eagle's claw and 13 leaves on the olive branch. So far there's been no evidence tying these long-ago design decisions to the present economic situation.


I am so torn on this one…


Thursday, February 12, 2009

Silence is golden…

There was a good article, actually I’m sure several hundred at least – but I will reference the one in my local paper the Washington Post, regarding the latest announcement of yet another banned substance scandal.

In it the writer makes the following statement…
“Baseball or the federal government, which seized the list, should release the names of every player who tested positive for a banned substance in 2003, if for no reason than it would clear the names of more than 600 major league players who refused to sully the game or themselves that year. “

In fact, I think we should expand this concept / list to include all sports and reprehensible activity, such as the ones on this NFL crime watch list

Then, let’s put some teeth behind these lists and make folks accountable. Players should be suspended, without pay, for breaking the rules; if for no other reason to reward those who do honor the game and their god given talent.


Wednesday, February 11, 2009

The names have changed, but...

Geithner Announces Restructured Bailout Plan
Plan Aims to Aid Banks, Spur Lending, Push Private Investors to Buy Toxic Assets
David Cho and Lori Montgomery
Washington Post Staff Writers Tuesday, February 10, 2009; 1:10 PM
Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner announced Tuesday morning an aggressive and multi-faceted program that could commit $1.5 trillion or more in public and private funds to rescue banks and financial institutions and thaw frozen credit markets.


Well, as much as I hate to admit that anything Microsoft has a hand in, MSN Money had it right weeks ago and, to top it all off; explained in plain simple terms that even I could understand.

Why the bank bailouts are doomed
It's tempting to believe that more money will fix the messes of our financial institutions. But simple math tells us the system is insolvent, and the solutions are unpalatable.
Jon Markman
MSN Money

I took the liberty of cut-and-pasting a cliff-notes version below.

Unfortunately, I think the only things that have “changed” with the new administration are the names…

“In the past 12 months, taxpayers, sovereign wealth funds and private investors have sunk $1 trillion into failing U.S. and British financial institutions.

Yet major banks continue to collapse. Why

The math is not complicated. Bank losses from the write-offs of bad loans and busted derivatives tally up to $1.5 trillion so far. In addition, $5 trillion to $10 trillion worth of off-balance-sheet businesses such as structured investment vehicles -- leveraged lending vehicles used by big banks to fatten their profits in boom times -- are being forced back to banks' balance sheets by regulators. Rules require banks to keep a base of real shareholder capital amounting to 10% of those funds. So banks need to find up to $1 trillion within the next year to meet that objective.

Add the $1.5 trillion in losses to $1 trillion in needed new reserves, and you can see that banks need as much as $2.5 trillion in new capital to remain solvent under current rules.

In aggregate, therefore, the entire system is simply insolvent, as liabilities are greater than assets. Governments aren't forcing banks to admit this, but investors are, and that is why big banks' shares have lost half of their value this year. Governments, meanwhile, are trying desperately to help banks plug the gap, but they're coming up short. When you add the $500 billion from sovereign wealth funds to the $500 billion from the first tranche of the Troubled Assets Relief Program, it's only $1 trillion. That's already been provided. So that leaves a gap of $500 billion to $1.5 trillion.

Because the calculation is so easy -- and so devastating -- it kind of makes you wonder why the Bush administration created TARP in the first place. But the administration couldn't do nothing, as that would have been politically unpalatable, so $500 billion has basically bought more time for someone to come up with a better answer. Tick, tick, tick.

You can't very well have a bankrupt banking system, however, so the market has spent the first three weeks of the new year pricing in the inevitable next step: nationalization of most large banks. The reason is simple: If your owner can print money, you don't need to keep any reserves. Problem solved.

The new Treasury secretary should stop the charade with the second tranche of TARP money and certainly not contemplate TARP II and TARP III, as has been discussed in Washington. Just nationalize the banks and get on with the next phase rather than pour more money down a hole.

The best course of action, which would have been the most painful in the short term but beneficial in the long term, would have been to force banks to open all their books to regulators and investors, allowing us to see which were solvent and which were not. Then the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., which is sort of a mini-nationalizer, could have closed the bad banks and merged their assets into strong banks, and we would be halfway through the crisis by now.”


Tuesday, February 10, 2009

I've Been Busy...

Well, it’s the winter of the sports world now. You know the time between the NFL season, March Madness, opening day for Baseball and the start of our fair weather sports such as Golf.
I know, Hockey and the NBA are in full swing, but with hundreds of games to be played before anything really counts, it’s hard to truly get excited.

So, this could only mean one thing… tax season again!

Many of us are faced with the possibility of having to pay money back to the government for taxes we owe. Some of us are lucky enough to be getting tax money back.

Well, I’ve come up with a plan that not only entitles us to never pay taxes again but to stay out of jail too!

Become a public servant who works to form the laws and policies of our cities, states and national government!

The evidence is clear.

Tim Geithner - not paid $35,000 in self-employment taxes for several years
Tom Daschle - did not pay taxes on an additional $83,333 that he earned as a consultant
Nancy Killefer - a $946.69 tax lien on her home for failure to pay unemployment compensation tax on household help

And last but certainly not least…

Former DC Mayor Marion Barry - failing to file his tax returns from 1999 to 2004 – did not file on time in 2005 and has either not filed or failed to file his taxes on time for the eighth time in nine years.

When questioned about this, Mr. Barry said that he had “been busy” working at his job on the council.


Sunday, February 8, 2009


Ok, It was bound to happen sooner or later; My first attempt at a slightly humoristic, slightly satirical, and slightly sarcastic commentary on the current news.

This weekend the US congress fought over the resolution of Obama’s version of a stimulus and fail-out, oops I mean bail-out, package. They finally came to terms cutting approximately 20% of the package.
Here is a list of cuts; and my take on each…. Ba-da-boom !

Partially cut:
• $3.5 billion for energy-efficient federal buildings (original bill $7 billion)
> We all know the government is never efficient.

• $75 million from Smithsonian (original bill $150 million)
> Come on, the Smithsonian is FREE!!!
> That means it is one of the best economic
> bang for the buck attractions around; even in a recession…

• $200 million from Environmental Protection Agency Superfund (original bill $800 million)
> Well, if we are not going to make the government more efficient
> and save energy, why do we need to protect the resources?

• $100 million from National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (original bill $427 million)
> NOAA? But I love all those great and colorful radar pictures,
> satellite views, and long range forecasts. Not to mention
> advanced warnings on hurricanes and other natural disasters!!!

• $100 million from law enforcement wireless (original bill $200 million)
> 50% cut? Either this is the republicans attempt to make them
> more efficient or congress does not have a clue.
> Might as well have cut it all if you really don’t
> want first responders to communicate.

• $300 million from federal fleet of hybrid vehicles (original bill $600 million)
> Makes sense, see (EPA and Federal Building Cuts)…
> Who cares about setting a g
ood example…

• $100 million from FBI construction (original bill $400 million)
> Well, if you are cutting wireless so they can’t “roam”
> where are all these people going to sit?

Fully eliminated

• $55 million for historic preservation
> Goes along with not protecting stuff…

• $122 million for Coast Guard polar icebreaker/cutters
> Since we are not cutting emissions,
> it’s all going to melt anyway…

• $100 million for Farm Service Agency modernization
> Gotta keep those migrant workers employed…
> Oooooo Sorry – not PC.

• $50 million for Cooperative State Research, Education and Extension Service
> Sounds like something to do with education…

• $65 million for watershed rehabilitation
> If we are not going to preserve stuff, and conserve stuff,
> then why bother with rehab?

• $100 million for distance learning
> More education cuts,
> oh and no wireless to support distance learning either…

• $98 million for school nutrition
> So, not only do we not educate better,
> We stop feeding them too?
> Looks like the kids will be packing more lunches…

• $50 million for aquaculture
> What is aquaculture?

• $2 billion for broadband
> No FIOS either?
> And the weather channel just went HD too… :-(
> Hmmmm, What about IPTV, Streaming Movies
> and other large AV content delivery businesses.

• $100 million for National Institute of Standards and Technology
> NIST –
> there’s a pun about government having standards in here somewhere…

• $50 million for detention trustee
> Is this school or federal?

• $25 million for Marshalls Construction
> What is Marshall Constructing?

• $300 million for federal prisons
> Must have meant federal detention…

• $300 million for BYRNE Formula grant program
> Byrne? Gotta look this one up?

• $140 million for BYRNE Competitive grant program
> Baby Burn…

• $10 million state and local law enforcement
> Again with the first responders… Sheeesh.

• $50 million for NASA
> This probably means one less astronaut….

• $50 million for aeronautics
> Isn’t our fleet of planes getting old?
> in need of repair and or replacement?
> I thought building infrastructure was for Planes, Trains, and Automobiles…
> Guess it’s just going to be Trains and Automobiles, oh wait…
> Auto companies are going down the tubes..
> Just Trains I guess.

• $50 million for exploration
> Exploration of what?
> Who needs to explore when we just cut NASA, NOAA,
> Communications, Education and broadband delivery
> for all the information we aren’t going to find out about…

• $50 million for Cross Agency Support
> No wireless,
> No buildings for agency workers,
> OK already, we get the point

• $200 million for National Science Foundation
> Exactly what do they do?

• $100 million for science
> Again with the science.
> Doesn’t matter,
> We will not be going anywhere and exploring either.

• $1 billion for Energy Loan Guarantees
> So more people will not be able to afford heat… Great!

• $4.5 billion for General Services Administration
> Probably a drop in the bucket for them…

• $89 million General Services Administration operations
> If you cut operations, you need less administrators…
> (this almost makes sense!)

• $50 million from Department of Homeland Security
> Again with the security and first responders…
> and cross agency communication.
> Hope no radical groups are looking at this list.

• $200 million Transportation Security Administration
> Well, we already cut the planes and autos,
> so all they need to watch are the trains…

• $122 million for Coast Guard Cutters, modifies use
> With more water, aren’t they going to need more boats?

• $25 million for Fish and Wildlife
> Guess in their minds,
> more water = more room for more fish and more wildlife…

• $55 million for historic preservation
> Wasn’t this the first thing cut?

• $20 million for working capital fund
> Wouldn’t working capital help the economy?

• $165 million for Forest Service capital improvement
> We already covered resource management…

• $90 million for State and Private Wildlife Fire Management
> Ditto…

• $1 billion for Head Start/Early Start
> Queue the music…
> “We don’t need no education…”

• $5.8 billion for Health Prevention Activity
> They probably thought this meant preventing health…
> which would not be a good thing….

• $2 billion for Health Information Technology Grants
> There goes Obama’s electronic medical records project

• $600 million for Title I (No Child Left Behind)
> Sure, building for the future does not mean education…

• $16 billion for school construction
> Unbelievable….

• $3.5 billion for higher education construction
> No worries,
> less of them are going to be smart enough to get into college
> So, you can cut the college loan programs too…

• $1.25 billion for project based rental
> Does this have something to do with the housing?

• $2.25 billion for Neighborhood Stabilization
> No education,
> no first responders communicating,
> no housing…
> no worries about stable neighborhoods?

• $1.2 billion for retrofitting Project 8 housing
> Come on people…. !!!

• $40 billion for state fiscal stabilization (includes $7.5 billion of state incentive grants)
> We bail out bad banks and executives
> but not states being affected by a bad economy?


Saturday, February 7, 2009

More entertaining than the Pro Bowl...

Clinton and Shark from Tanner Cooley on Vimeo.

Clinton 1 on 1 With Eli from Tanner Cooley on Vimeo.


Friday, February 6, 2009

On Demand

What is worse than a demanding 2 ½ year old?
A 2 ½ year old and “on demand” recording from your cable company. I should probably include any form of recorded media as well including tape and DVD, since we also have these scattered around the house as well.

Perhaps another good phrase for this post is; Good technology in the wrong hands is nothing but a good idea gone horribly wrong.

One of the shows William (our 2 ½ year old) absolutely loves is Blues Clues. Now, this is really a good show. It has won numerous awards, such as; Best Educational TV Show or Series, Outstanding Achievement in Children's Programming, and even a Peabody Award.

So, what is so bad about Blues Clues? Absolutely nothing!

However, when one has dozens of episodes recorded via on demand (thanks to older siblings), DVD and tape; all of which are easily accessible from a handy remote, push of a button or convenient box; then the demanding 2 ½ year old would like nothing more than to watch Blues Clues every waking moment of every waking day over and over and over again. Of course, when he does not get his way, he throws a horrible fit!

It’s almost as if William thinks he is entitled to it because we have it and he can technically watch it when ever he wants.

Of course we, as good parents, will work with him so that he realizes that he is not entitled to what ever he wants when he wants it. And that throwing a fit is not the proper response.

And this leads me to my next thought….

What ever happened to the good old days when there were no recordings? Shows aired once a week and we all anxiously looked forward to watching the next exciting episode of our favorite show?

You know, “same bat time, same bat channel”.

In fact, though I may be embellishing this just a bit, we would gladly do our chores, homework, and go outside and “be good” all week just so that we would not miss watching our favorite show.

Ah, the good ol’ days….


Thursday, February 5, 2009


So, I already got bored with the format of my recently started blog; and armed with a couple conceptual ideas to play with, went looking for images, photos and such to give this blog a facelift.

It's still a work in progress, but I think it is on the right track.

Along the way I came across some interesting photos. This one is obviously football related and almost looks staged, but isn’t. Outside of the obvious blooper quality of this photo, I was particularly struck by the abundant protective gear, packed stands, and media grabbing advertising ;-)

Personally, I think the goal post is better protected than the players…

Here is the original caption to the photo:
Cleveland fullback Tony Adamle finds the goalpost a great offensive weapon as he vainly tries to prevent Dons' back Walt Clay from scoring a touchdown in a Dons-Brown professional football game, November 25.
With the goal post blocking for him on his left side, Clay hit pay dirt through a big hole in the line. Cleveland won, 31-14, to remain undefeated.

Strangely, the date on the picture said November 27, 1948. I believe that this is actually the publication date. A little bit of research on the net revealed the following about the game and the 1948 Cleveland Browns.

Game Box Recap

Cleveland Browns at Los Angeles Dons Thursday, November 25, 1948

Cleveland Browns (12-0-0) 0 14 17 0 31
Los Angeles Dons (7-6-0) 7 7 0 0 14

LAD Walt Clay 1 yard rush (Ben Agajanian kick) 0 7
CLE Dante Lavelli 49 yard pass from Otto Graham (Lou Groza kick) 7 7
LAD Walt Clay 1 yard rush (Ben Agajanian kick) 7 14
CLE Bob Cowan 17 yard pass from Otto Graham (Lou Groza kick) 14 14
CLE Otto Graham 1 yard rush (Lou Groza kick) 21 14
CLE Lou Groza 36 yard field goal 24 14
CLE Tony Adamle 19 yard rush (Lou Groza kick) 31 14

Regarding the Cleveland Browns Championship Season:

Record: 14-0-0, Finished 1st in AAFC West Division

1948 AAFC Champions
Scored 389 points (27.8/g), 2nd of 8 in the AAFC.

Allowed 190 points (13.6/g), 1st.

Differential of 199 points (14.2/g), 2nd.

Takeaway/Giveaway Differential +13 (0.9/g), 2nd.
Coached by Paul Brown (14-0-0)

And now for the other photo…..
I’ll call this one “what’s wrong with today’s economic vehicle?”


Tuesday, February 3, 2009

February 09 Watch List

I finally got around to a February watch list. WOW, this list was long with lots of companies. In fact, after I weeded through them all, and eliminated about half for various reasons, the list was still twice a long as I would like to have for a watch list.

I’m listing the weeded through list and highlighting the ones of particular interest to me which I plan on following more closely.

What I found particularly interesting for this month, is the large amount of medical/phar/electronic component type of stocks showing up. Most of the time I avoid these; however this time, because of the fact that we have pets, I have included a couple.

My Highlighted February Watch List.

SVA Sinovac Biotech Ltd
Sinovac Biotech, Ltd., a biopharmaceutical company, through its subsidiaries, engages in the research, development, production, and sale of vaccines that protect against human infectious diseases.
Has a decent pipeline of product including a recently announced expansion into the veterinary market with a rabies vaccine. Sinovac’s main product is Healive®, a human vaccine for hepatitis B. Without being specific, Sinovac said that the rabies vaccine was the first of “a number of products” now in the animal health development pipeline.

GIGM GigaMedia Ltd
Go Gamers!

UEPS Net 1 Ueps Technologies Inc
Net 1 has developed an electronic payment solution for the underbanked in developing countries. The company’s system addresses the needs of four billion people, an enormous addressable market and has been expanding it’s base to other countries. Interesting play on financial system. Recently upgraded and earnings announcement due this week.

ABAX Abaxis Inc
Develops, manufactures, markets, and sells portable blood analysis systems for use in human or veterinary patient-care. New products and contracts announced and last week had a really good earnings announcement. This is yet another interesting medical/vet play. Currently experiencing a BIG upswing 20% due to earnings conference call. Gee sorry I missed this one but may be good to get in on a dip in price.

EHTH eHealth Inc
eHealth, Inc. offers Internet-based insurance agency services to individuals, families, and small businesses primarily in the United States. The company’s e-commerce platform, which is accessed directly via and, enable individuals and families to research, analyze, compare, and purchase health insurance products online. It offers various health insurance products, including medical health insurance coverage, such as preferred provider organization; health maintenance organization and indemnity plans; short-term medical insurance; student health insurance; health savings account eligible health insurance plans; and ancillary products, such as dental, vision, and life insurance. The company, in partnership with Shanghai's Alltrust Insurance Agency Co., Ltd., offers health, life, and accident insurance in Xiamen and Shanghai, the People?s Republic of China. Interesting play on healthcare system.. They are maintaining good balance sheets, growth even with the recent downturn. In fact, with the new administration and with the downturn (loss of corporate benefits) more folks might just be looking to extend insurance at an affordable rate. And EHTH is exactly the place the would go to look.
watch for added buyin or sudden movements up or down.

GME GameStop Corp
Might pick up again at low point and good pattern - Go Gamers!

GTI GrafTech International Ltd
GrafTech International, Ltd. develops and manufactures graphite and carbon material science-based solutions. It operates in three segments: Graphite Electrodes, Advanced Graphite Materials, and Other Businesses. Produced cash flow in the first nine months of $171 million, more than double the same period a year earlier. As a result, it was able to reduce net debt by $285 million, which in turn cut interest expenses by more than 50% to less than $13 million. Due to economic slowdown, it revised its full-year numbers for 2008 downward indicating sales would increase 18% to 20%, operating income 35% to between $315 million and $330 million with cash flow from operations increasing to $210 million, up from previous guidance of $190 million. These are still really good numbers for any company especially now.

MR Mindray Medical International Ltd
Again, not usually one I would include on a list but it appears to be a strong company, with a good pipeline of products for 2009 and gaining momentum. This one has good short and long term potential. (we aren’t getting any younger you know)…
Mindray Medical International Limited, through its subsidiary, Shenzhen Mindray Bio-Medical Electronics Co., Ltd., engages in the development, manufacture, and marketing of medical devices. It operates in three segments: Patient Monitoring and Life Support, In-Vitro Diagnostic Products, and Medical Imaging Systems. Interesting to watch - good pipeline - wait for announcements or increase in flows.

SCOR comScore Inc
comScore, Inc. provides a digital marketing intelligence platform that helps customers make informed business decisions and implement digital business strategies in the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Germany, and Canada. Its products and solutions offer insights into consumer behavior, including objective, detailed information regarding usage of their online properties and those of their competitors, coupled with information on consumer demographic characteristics, attitudes, lifestyles, and offline behavior. I believe the economic downturn will make this sort of information and data-minning even more valuable. Interesting of note is their resent top ten list which has ties back to other companies on both this watch list and January’s. Look for a drop (See online gaming, gambling and smart phone/devices).

TWLL Techwell Inc
Techwell, Inc., a semiconductor company, engages in the design, marketing, and sale of mixed signal integrated circuits for multiple video applications in the security surveillance, automotive, consumer, and personal computer (PC) markets worldwide. Its products enable the conversion of analog video signals to digital form and perform digital video processing to facilitate the display, storage, and transport of video content. The company provides security surveillance products that integrate various functions required to display, store, and transport analog video signals from security surveillance cameras; and liquid crystal display (LCD) products, which integrate functions required to display analog video, high definition video, and PC graphics signals on a LCD display. It offers its security surveillance products for applications in embedded digital video recorders (DVRs), PC-based DVRs, networked video recorders, and multiplexers. I know the semiconductor industry is not strong now but this company is concentrated on video capture and security devices which I believe is still a strong and growing field in today’s world. The current economic conditions are reason for concern here so watch to see if it goes below Jan lows. Earnings announcement soon.

Others of Notable Mention.
(hopefully this will not be like my 2008 Fantasy Football Team where my bench had a tendency to outperform my starters….)

ARGN Amerigon Inc
Again, interesting company support a down industry, settling into a stable trading pattern, when autos pick up probably worth watching.

ATRM Aetrium Inc
Not what I usually follow, but an interesting uptick pattern of strength and money flow. Watch for now. I am including this one on main list only because it seems to be establishing consecutively higher lows.

AAPL Apple Inc
Watch for it to go down to 85 or less to possibly buy.

ADBE Adobe Systems Inc
Left over from last month. Good to watch for long term

ARO Aeropostale Inc
Buy what others are buying and example of good pattern.

ATRM Aetrium Inc
Not what I usually follow, but an interesting uptick pattern of strength and money flow. Watch for now. I am including this one on main list only because it seems to be establishing consecutively higher lows.

EGMI Electronic Game Card Inc
Wow how did this get on my screens, OIC good ownership and profits, and an interesting play on a poor economy. Notice support levels. And patterns. Lets see where the new line is drawn and how it acts as it approaches the 50d ma. Again, not a stock or product line I usually am interested in…

FSLR First Solar Inc
Everyone wants to be both green and bright. ;-) I just do not know if I am ready to jump in or on this bandwagon yet. Watch for now looking at a possible holding pattern watch ma and for any drops.

GSIT GSI Technology Inc
Good for long term watch - earnings announcement this week

ITRN Ituran Location and Control Ltd
Ituran Location and Control, Ltd., together with its subsidiaries, provides location-based solutions and machine-to-machine wireless communications products for use in stolen vehicle recovery, fleet management, and other applications. Another good auto play-actually showed up on one of last month screens and has since moved up the list. Watch.

JCOM j2 Global Communications Inc
Watch pattern to see if it bounces off of 20ish mark.

MOS Mosaic Co

DXR Daxor Corp
Watch for 15 level and lower

VDSI Vasco Data Security International Inc

VSNT Versant Corp

WTU Williams Coal Seam Gas Royalty Trust

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