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Sunday, February 28, 2010

Mutt Madness

In the spirit of March madness and in an effort to honor all sport fans, both human and non human, I introduce the first annual Fumbled Returns Mutt Madness Contest.

Actually, it is a really boring time for football and fantasy football fans everywhere and I was looking for a way to spice things up a bit.

So, without further delay, I introduce Fumbled Returns Mutt Madness!!!

The Rules:
1) Open to any sport or team or athlete of your choice.
2) Open to any type of Dog of your choice. Sorry, we are dog people no other pets allowed in contest.
3) Decorate your dog(s) in your favorite team or sport hero’s colors, logos, uniforms, or what ever you can think of. The end result should be to show both yours and your pets loyalty and passion and humor for the sport and the game.

These next ones should be obvious but I am going to include them anyway…
4) No permanent damage and or do not physically harm your pet in any way.
5) Tasteful entries only please, though I will be the judge as to what is tasteful or not, and I have been known to have my moments (slip ups in judgment). So if you have a risqué risky idea (but not too much) go ahead and submit it.

Contest starts March 1st and ends March 29th.
Category winners will be announced March 30th.
Top Dog (Grand Prize Winner) will be announced March 31st.

The Categories:

Rookies: This is for puppies up till the age of 1 year. Because we all know that puppies have mega cute factor when young and may pose an unfair advantage to the older entries.

Veterans: Adult dogs over 1 year of age. Despite the fact that nearly all sports and contests are split between men and women, I am keeping this as one category. After all, we all know that both are equal… right? ;-)

Groupies: For entries of two or more pets.

Faux-Paws: (for photochop experts)Because, we all know that there always some athletes and contestants who are… “enhanced”.

Entries and Winner Determination:

Send all entries to

Please include your pet(s) name and the category you wish to be entered in.

All approved entries will be posted on the Fumbled Returns Facebook Fan Page for everyone to view, comment and most importantly VOTE ON.

Each category will be a separate photo album on the fan page.

You can cast your vote by pressing the “like” button on the entries you like most.

You can vote for more than one entry but not multiple times for the same entry.

The Prizes:

The winner of each category will receive a yet to be determined prize (probably some sort of sports chew toy). If there is a tie (as in two or more category entries have the same number of "like" votes) the tie breaker will be who has the most favorable comments. If there is still a tie, I get to pick.

A grand prize, Top Dog, winner will be chosen, by my wife and I, and receive a complimentary hand painted painting of the winner as interpreted by my lovely and talented wife.

You can see excellent examples of her work on Etsy.

She also runs a blog called Hope and Greyz.

So everyone get your thinking caps on, and get as creative as you can be, and dress up those wonderful pets of yours.

Spread the word to all your friends to try and get the most votes and may the best contestant win!

Check back as often as you wish to view new and updated entries!


Friday, February 26, 2010

Damage Report

So, after 3 record snow falls in the same winter and well over 75+ inches of total snow fall, this is the damage report from our back yard.

4 Trees split in half.
1 knocked completely down.
1 lost tree top.
~ 12 broken branches.

This translates into:

A whole lot of debris and firewood. But no damage to the house, shed or deck. :-)


Future Stars...

Each February, hundreds of the very best college football players are invited to the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis, Ind., where executives, coaches, scouts and doctors from all 32 NFL teams conduct an intense, four-day job interviews, psychological evaluations and skill tests in advance of the NFL Draft.

All totally useless.

I think an NFL "Survivor" episode/series would be more fun and valuable to watch.

What better way to get the true team, leadership and personality traits of prospective draftees then to have them in a survivor mode competing against each other and other teams to ultimately win a spot in the NFL.

Then I might actually watch it.

There is no real football game action, no real demonstration of true football talent or attitude. Nothing that brings out the competative animal in any of us.

Instead, I think teams should look for a true football animal who shows real talent, is eager to do so, displays amazing feats of agility, bursts of speed and ball handling skills.

Kind of like these real football animals...

Balance, and rad ball handling skills:

True agility and speed, not to mention great leaping and catching ability:

"No footballs were harmed during these stunts"


Thursday, February 25, 2010

Hand Grenades against cancer

Every now and then..
I come across someone who has done some good research.
I come across someone who knows how things work and can think "outside the box".

I wish it happened more often.

In his article, 5 attractive stocks under $5, Michael Brush discusses an interesting company and stock called Genspera.

Even in this age of economic uncertainty, smart people are still developing new weapons against cancer, the second-most-common cause of death in the U.S., after heart disease. Craig Dionne, who headed up discovery research in biology at Cephalon (CEPH, news, msgs) for several years, now leads a tiny biotech startup called Genspera (GNSZ, news, msgs), which is developing what he likes to call a "hand grenade" against cancer.

Researchers at Johns Hopkins University have figured out a way to put a chemical "pin" on a powerful anti-cancer drug called thapsigargin, extracted from a readily available weed. The pin deactivates the drug, allowing it to circulate in the body without causing damage to good cells.

Enzymes from tumors "pull the pin," activating the drug only near the tumors. The drug destroys blood vessels feeding tumors, with limited damage elsewhere in the body. Genspera, which bought this approach from the Johns Hopkins professors who developed it, thinks it could be effective against a range of cancers.

The drug also causes cancer cells to flood with calcium, killing them. This approach is crucial against slow-dividing cells such as those in prostate-cancer tumors. Many chemotherapies take out cancer cells only when those cells divide; Genspera's compound doesn't wait.

Genspera is a risky investment, of course, as is any biotech startup. Its "hand grenade" approach looks effective in animals but may not work in humans. And it is still in early "phase one" testing, which checks for safety. However, I'm betting Dionne's two-decades-plus experience in drug development offsets these risks.

I think I'll add this one to one of my none monthly watch lists.

More about Genspera.


Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Have you heard...

So by now you probably know that Evgeni Plushenko's web site awarded, at one point, a Platinum Medal to the Olympic Skater for his LOSING performance.

Never mind the fact that there is no such thing as a platinum medal, it just sounded better to them and looked Really Cool!

Of course now, that claim to fame no longer exists and he has a statement which now claims he had no knowledge nor did he endorse such a post.

I saw his performance and while he did more than one quad jump, All his jumps were just a bit off. Still it was an impressive performance and he is a talented athlete.

Unfortunately, quads are like blow fish sushi, one should not attempt it unless it is perfect.


Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Ex-(But Available)-Skins

From Hogs Haven Blog

Patrick Ramsey (DET) - No action in 2009
Jon Jansen (DET) - 11 games, started 2
Walt Harris (49ers) - No action
Jeremy Bridges (Cards) - 16 games, started 4
Jason Taylor (Fins) - 13 games, 3 FF, 1 INT - shoulder surgery will keep him out 3 months
Antonio Pierce (NYG) - 9 games, 55 tacklees, 1 FF, 1 sack
Vernon Fox (DEN) - Only played in 2 games in 2009 (OAK/KC) putting up 1 tackle (played 10 games the year before).
Brandon Lloyd (DEN) - Only played in 2 games & totaled 8 receptions for 117 yards (0 TDs)
Ryan Clark (PIT) - 15 games, 89 tackles, 3 INTs, 30 years old
Kelley Washington (BAL) - 34 rec, 431 yards, 2 TDs. Skins had him in minicamp for a short stint. Also infamous for his "Squirrel" TD dance.

The sentimental favorite is Jon Jansen, but really, we should only bring him back at most in a backup roll and, more importantly so he can retire "A Redskin".

The only one truly worth his weight, and any true consideration, is Ryan Clark.

It would definately be a calculated risk especially if we have to give up a draft pick for him. My guess is they go for one of these guys if, and only if, they get draft picks from any of the (Current Free Agent) Redskins going to somebody else.


Monday, February 22, 2010

I will never be mean to you again.

That is what our daughter said after her Surprise Sweet 16 Party.

And we have 3rd party witnesses!

I'd call that a success.


Sunday, February 21, 2010

A Question

Q: Why are there separate men and women Curling competitions?

After all, the strength, agility and stamina requirements of the sport are easily achieved by both. Why not have them compete against one another?

I think I know the answer, and the men would lose every time!

A: Because the women are so much better at sweeping...


Saturday, February 20, 2010

Hurry Hard !

Participating in the Olympics is costly and requires sometimes creative ways to raise money and awareness of you, your team and sport.

Curling is one of those Olympic sports that is ALWAYS looking for sponsors.

Curling also involves shouting instructions at your teammates and calling out the line and speed of the stone you just threw.

One often shouted term is "Hurry Hard".

Hurry Hard means for the sweepers to well, sweep faster and harder.

When watching curling, it is pretty easy to hear them shouting this out from time to time.

So, a few USA curlers were sitting around one day just shooting the breeze and trying to think of new ideas for raising money. After all, they had already come up with the idea of having people paying $30 to test your skill against Shuster and the Olympic team. Pretty cool, but they needed more in order to go to the Olympics.

When out of the blue, someone joked that "hurry hard" would be a good name for a condom.

The idea was then mentioned to Kodiak chairman Dan Field, who had a connection to MCAP, and the program took off from there. USA Curling informed the U.S. Olympic Committee of the project before announcing it.

"HIV/AIDS awareness and prevention is a noble cause and the USOC, much like the IOC, certainly supports sport playing a role in tackling these and other terrible afflictions," USOC spokesman Patrick Sandusky said.

A worthy cause, and partnership.

However, I quite possibly will never look at the curling stone the same way again.

You can find out more about the sport of curling, the athletes and other sponsors here.

You can ummmm "help raise awareness" here.


Friday, February 19, 2010

Take it to the limit

Maybe it's me, but this year there seems to be a big deal being made about crashes.

Lots of athletes crashing, and lots of officials making changes to courses as a result of these crashes.

Perhaps having the death of the Georgian Luger happen even before the games officially start set a more tragic and reactive tone for the entire Olympics but the point I wanted to make was that athletes have always , from time to time, crashed and gotten injured but I do not seem to remember officials making so many changes to courses as a result of people crashing.

This has happened to the Luge, the downhill and slalom courses, even some of the ice competitions, though that was mostly because the cheapo Zamboni they originally bought could not fix the ice appropriately.

I think all of these course crashes and "fixes" is a result of the industry of sports competition and athletes constantly pushing the limit of physical and technical ability.

Olympic athletes are special. They are the best of the best and as such have this drive and determination to constantly push themselves and their sport to new and higher and more dangerous limits.

This drive in turn makes the "sport" constantly look for ways to challenge the athletes.

Perhaps this year the sport has pushed the athletes more than it should have.

But still, I don't seem to remember officials making as many changes as they have this year. I am reminded of the old Wide World of Sports intro which shows the "agony of defeat" and thinking, "did anybody shorten the ski jump" as a result of this incident?

It seems that the only Olympic sport to not have been pushed to the limit and changed as a result of crashes is Curling.

Now I have to admit, we have been watching the Curling competition. I also have to admit that for such a none contact and physically demanding sport, it has gotten A LOT of air time. We have enjoyed watching it because it is intriguing to watch the strategy of the the sport and the technique involved.

But just like everything else, someone somewhere has found a way to push curling to the limit and prove that it is a sport of not only skill and strategy but of strength, speed and physical ability.

Strangely enough, I found these people pushing the limits of curling not on NBC Olympic coverage but on the Weather Channel and Colbert Nation.

So in the spirit of Fun Strip Fridays, I end this post with out takes of video which pushes Olympic coverage and interviews to new limits.

The Weather Channel proves that Curling is indeed a contact sport!

And Colbert pushes the coverage of the sport to new limits in his video spot.

The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Exclusive - Curling Team Tryouts Outtakes Pt. 2
Colbert Report Full EpisodesPolitical HumorSkate Expectations

Of course, leave it to Colbert to take a sports interview to a level, a spot, where no other interview has gone before.

The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Exclusive - Zach Lund Outtakes Pt. 2
Colbert Report Full EpisodesPolitical HumorSkate Expectations


Thursday, February 18, 2010

Mardi Gras and Lent

Just in case you did not catch it. Drew Brees participated in the Mardi Gras Celebration as the Roman God of Wine Bracchus.

He rode the float and tossed little footballs to the crowd.

As for me, I am abandoning my pursuit of Bracchus for lent.

Which means Tuesday Night meant ridding the house of Wine and Chocolate Brownies.


Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Some Things I'd Like to See...

Darrell Green's 50th Birthday Dash...

Absolutely Amazing !
Happy Belated Birthday Darrell!!!


Albert Haynesworth practicing Washington Redskins new Strength and Conditioning Coach Ray Wright's workout routine which includes...

Yoga and Jiu Jitsu classes !

I can't wait to see those new moves on the field Albert...

Who knows, it could also help prepare for a post football career in the MMA or The Ultimate Fighter competition. see Marcus Jones.


The Washington Redskins showing restraint during free agency like the Steelers have already announced...

"The Pittsburgh Steelers announced plans to follow a self-imposed salary cap in 2010 and won't take advantage of the lack of a collective bargaining agreement to add more quality free agents than usual."

If they did, this would be the first true test and measure of the new Allen and Shanahan era!


Tuesday, February 16, 2010

A follow up to Budget Buster...

Seems that my idea, although not unique nor all that new, is gaining momentum...

Excerpts from the Federal News Radio program...

Also WTOP news reviewed this topic as well...

Berry said he did manage to find a silver lining in the cloud, however. He told Federal News Radio that he spoke personally with President Obama about increasing the federal teleworking workforce, and thinks last week will serve as a great example as to why quick action is needed.

Some federal agencies last week took advantage of existing telework policies with success.

The Patent and Trademark Office told Federal News Radio that it had a record number of people teleworking during the worst of the storm on Wednesday, Feb. 10.

Rep. Gerry Connolly (D.-Va.) spoke with The Federal Drive on Thursday morning and explained that he thinks a lot more federal employees should be authorized to telework, and that some of the current policies should be changed.

Not everyone thinks the change will happen as quickly as Director Berry hopes.

Chuck Wilsker, President and CEO of the Telework Coalition talked with The Daily Debrief on Thursday afternoon. He said that he doesn't think changing the government's workplace policies on telecommuting is as easy as it sounds.


Monday, February 15, 2010

Looking to Break Out

As I sit here watching

Yet MORE snow fall...

My children home from school for the 7th + day 8th + in a row!
They just canceled school for Tuesday!
That's it, I want to move someplace where either, they do not ever get snow, or where they know how to plow it and clear the Roads!!!

We never had this problem when I lived in upstate NY or New England.


Watching The Olympics on TV...

I am looking for a break out from this routine.

And a break out stock pattern to help boost my returns...

So lets take a look at how my February watch lists have done so far.

Starting Line Up

UNP - Appears to be gaining strength since the beginning of the month and looking like a better buy.

CEPH - This is an intriguing stock pattern that is looking more and more like a cup and handle pattern. Could be a good break out candidate.

ODSY - has recovered nicely off of its recent pull back and reports later this week.

HQS - Looking like it has settled above low resistance and is trying to reverse trend back upwards. This last 2nd low point is higher than previous low point.

ROST - Another stock looking to post sequentially higher lows.


CHE - has recovered nicely since it recent pull back from earlier highs. Reports Tuesday . A good report could be all this needs to break out upwards through top end.

FDO - My current holding - waiting for it to break out up past resistance . It has started this break out pattern buy I am wondering how strong of a pattern it will be.

SSYS - Recovering nicely off of pull back and is looking like another stock with a good upwards cup pattern

POWL - is sliding back down towards previous low point. May be setting up a good double bottom reverse or W pattern.

SHE - Has had a whopping turn around and break out back up. This is still a good but volatile stock. I am wishing now that I had the courage to bet that it would not loose its 50 day moving average support level. Which it has not broken once in the past six months.


Sunday, February 14, 2010

Are You Ready For Some... ?

This is the time of year that is truly fantasy football winter.

One of the other sports which I, and at least my sons, really get into is Hockey.

We have been avid fans of the Capitals and have thoroughly enjoyed this years season.

So, just as the football season ends, the Hockey season takes what is like a all star break in Baseball. A sort of Pro Bowl of international hockey.

Yes, just in case you have been hiding under a rock, or 2 - 3 feet of snow....

The 2010 Olympics have started. This means the NHL is taking a break because many NHL players are now playing for their native country hockey teams.

The Capitals have 5 players.

Tomas Fleischmann will represent the Czech Republic.

Nicklas Backstrom was named to the Swedish team.

Alex Ovechkin, Alexander Semin and Semyon Varlamov were named to the Russian team.

I admit, I really will have mixed loyalties but regardless of who plays, will have fun watching!

Go Caps! Go Team USA!


Saturday, February 13, 2010

Why would anyone want to be President?

Or Senator?
Or Congressman /..woman?
Or Governor for that matter?

Certainly not I.

There is this group on Facebook "Ted Nugent for Michigan Governor"

Yes, I joined.

No I do not live, nor have I ever lived in Michigan.

Yes, I hope he does not win. Or ANY electoral position.

Here is why.


Politicians have become a lighting rod for the press and are constantly put under the microscope. Ted probably does not have much of a problem with media attention. But this microscope tends to constrain people.

Politics has become more about preventing others from achieving their agenda than promoting change.

Politicians are constantly bombarded and influenced by special interest groups instead of a government for the people, nowadays it seems that the lobbyists and specials interest groups want the government to be for them.

Yes, sad but true and yes I wish it were not so.

Looking at Teds website, he is an great supporter of the NRA, hunting conservation and outdoorsmansship, an advocate of discipline, clean living and staunch supporter of the 2nd amendment.

He supports lots of organizations and works for advocacy groups including his own sponsored Kamp for Kids

I think this is great and I hope he and others continue and do even more.

As I continue to look through his site, news reports, interviews and commentary, There is this little bit about him always being against "evil" and "liberals" and "criminals".
This is probably why this whole political movement started. To prevent the evil criminal liberals from taking away our rights. This would certainly fit in with one of my definitions of becoming a politician.
But I think this is where the logic and some folks have gotten confused. I don't think the three are equal. (evil = liberals = criminals) But I digress...

Continuing my original line of thought here...

To be an advocate for change; stay out of elected office.

If anything Ted should continue promoting his values, join up with and create as many groups and organizations as possible and become a virtual conglomerate supporting exactly what he and others want upheld.

This conglomerate could then finance and support the values and issues that they want. This financial support could help influence legislation and government across the board at the local, state and even the Federal Government level.

Heck, he could even incorporate this virtual conglomerate. That way he could take advantage of the recent Supreme Court Ruling regarding money, financial contributions and Free Speech!

You see, imposing restrictions on how much money corporations, unions and other special interest groups can spend is, in the supreme courts opinion, restricting free speech.

So, in order to maximize political muscle, stay out of office!

Power to the people! Power to the Corporations! Power to the special interests!

Now, there is no limit to Teds, or anyone else for that matter, ability to influence and promote his values upon the political landscape and all in the name of Free Speech!

You don't need votes, or elections. All you need is money.

So Ted, keep playing Rock'n'Roll, turn up the amps, let your voice be heard and get those contributions flowing!

Rock On!


Friday, February 12, 2010

Stocks for the snowbound

There has been a lot of talk about all this snow and its affects on the government, people and the economy.

Will the snow closures hurt the economy?

Will not working send some people and families further into the red with the loss of potential income?

If it keeps congress and the president from passing any more legislation putting us further in the hole, is $100 million dollars a day to close the federal government worth it?

All noble questions, but not ones I am looking for answers to.

I got into wondering which companies, stocks might benefit from all this snow.

The other day, InvestorPlace published an article on just this sort of subject. They had a couple stocks that I was going to write about.

United States Natural Gas (UNG)
This cold weather stock isn’t actually a stock; it’s an exchange-traded fund (ETF). It is United States Natural Gas (UNG), an ETF designed to replicate the performance, net of expenses, of natural gas. The logic for UNG is simple. The colder it is outside, the more we need to heat our homes and offices, and most of us do this via natural gas. The increased demand for natural gas should translate into higher natural gas prices. Of course, sometimes this simple logic isn’t quite that simple. Mainly because there are literally tons of natural gas resources right here in the US. But I suspect that if we continue having cold weather, as the experts predict, then the short term supply situation will begin to dwindle as demand becomes stronger. If this dynamic does take shape, it could mean a big surge in natural gas prices. But I am not as convinced that this will be the place to be in the long term.

Netflix (NFLX)
When it’s too cold to go outside, it’s time to stay in and watch movies. These days, most people get their movies from Netflix (NFLX). The DVD rental pioneers were darlings of Wall Street last year, with the stock nearly doubling in 2009. But fears of an inability to meet growth expectations going forward, along with several downgrades of the stock in recent weeks, have knocked NFLX shares well off their highs. But I suspect this pullback in the stock could actually represent a good buying opportunity in the shares, as Netflix will undoubtedly remain the dominator in the DVD rental space for quite some time.

The InvestorPlace article also mentioned a clothing manufacture. North Face.
Made and distributed by VF Corp, it is certainly a worthwhile choice.

My choice for outdoor wear was Wolverine.

Wolverine World Wide Inc. (WWW)
Back when we had our first of three big snow storms, Dec 19, I had a pair of old boots that I had probably purchased at a local payless store. They were really not the greatest pair of boots, especially considering the fact that the entire soles FELL OFF!

Needless to say, my wife and kids were inspired to purchase a new pair of boots. They found a pair of Wolverine boots which are absolutely fantastic. Through all this ice, snow, wind and cold my feet have been 100% warm and dry.

The Wolverine stock has recently pulled back a bit on price and is, in my opinion near a good entry point.

Of course, where can you buy all these good outdoor products?

Dick's Sporting Goods (DKS)
In November, the company reported better-than-expected third-quarter earnings on rising same-store sales. Dick’s attributed the rise in same-store sales to strong performance of both the North Face and Columbia Sportswear brands. The company also said the increased sales for these brands were likely due to fears of a harsh winter.

Well, we all know that harsh winter came to fruition, and it’s not over yet. As the cold winds continue blowing, look for more shoppers to continue visiting Dick’s Sporting Goods for all of their cold-weather gear.

And, speaking of shoppers...
Each and every time one of these big storms was fore casted and hit the area, stores such as Shoppers Food Warehouse, Giant Food Stores, Wegmans, Safeway, Trader Joes, Whole Foods Market Inc (WFMI) were absolutely packed with people buying all the essentials. Milk, Bread, Beer, Wine, Chips, Steaks, and TP.

One could invest in many of these individually or one could diversify with an ETF such as Consumer Staples Select Sector SPDR (XLP)

And one final note on shopping, if, like many on the east coast, you were truly snowed in, you probably spent a fair amount of time online. And with a major holiday, Valentines Day, quickly approaching I bet many literally spent more online at places such as FTD or ProFlowers.

And don't forget about some of the other big name online retailers such as Amazon (AMZN), HSN (HSNI), and QVC.


Thursday, February 11, 2010

An Idea ...

Vancouver Trucking in Snow to 2010 Winter Olympics

First lets look at the numbers and do some math...

Virginia Budget Deficit ~ $133 Million

Maryland Budget Deficit ~ $2 Billion

Pennsylvania Budget Deficit ~ $3 Billion

Virgina = 1,170,892,800,000 sq feet

Maryland = 334,540,800,000 sq feet

Pennsylvania = 1,282,406,400,000 sq feet

Virginia, Maryland and Pennsylvania currently have between 2 and 3 feet of snow on the ground.

Leaving more than half for the kids to play with...

For a mere penny a foot, we could sell the half our snow to Vancouver and TOTALLY wipe out the budget deficits!

Virginia = $11 Billion profit

Maryland = $3 Billion Profit

Pennsylvania = $12 Billion Profit

Virginia and PA could even loan the proceeds to the federal government to help with their budget deficit too!

With interest of course...


Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Budget Buster

Snow So, I was wondering about all the "costs" of this epic winter and associated snows.

The Federal Government has been shut down for 3 consecutive days due to the weather. This is the first time this has happened in over 15 years!

One estimate puts the "cost" of the shutting down the federal government for a day at roughly $100 million in lost productivity and opportunity. Meaning that so far this winter has cost the tax payers nearly $400 million.

This winter is definitely one for the record books. By the time it is all over, Punxsutawney Phil say 6 more weeks, this will be the snowiest winter in 100 years.

Businesses are also impacted by the snow. Often businesses are either closed or not properly staffed due to employees not able to get to work. This results in lost revenue and added costs of paying employees who do not report to work.

There are also other costs associated with all this snow.

Maryland has (as of last week before the big storm finished and before today's third big snow) already spent $50 million of the $60 million budgeted to keep the snow clear. In D.C., officials said they were over their $6.2 million snow budget even before the storm started. And Pennsylvania officials said they had already spent half of their $245 million winter operations budget before the storm hit.

This has prompted some to call for an increase in taxes to help insure that we all can get to work in the snow. A kind of "snow insurance" tax.

This is stupid.

If we had this kind of winter all the time, then the budgets to clear the snow would be higher and therefore the taxes would be too.

The budgets are set based on historical trends and norms. They balance risk vs reward all the time. The risk of this happening, in the DC area, every year is negligible.

There are a ton of other factors that influence lost work, productivity and business revenue.

Yes, there are plenty of jobs that require people to be someplace else in order to perform their work. But in today's society, especially with more and more people and businesses relying on the Internet there is opportunity to look at other resources to enable folks to work.

If anything, this winter event, should be a great example for the need to have better telecommute policies and programs.

Lets look at some of the risk vs reward and potential cost savings for telecommuting.

I pulled the following examples from Innovisions Canada, well, because I was still thinking snow and work and thought where is there usually lots of snow, people, and the need to work. I naturally thought of the great white north, Canada.

Recruitment & Retention Telework is becoming a make-or-break issue in employee career decisions. If you have recruitment or retention problems, consider EKOS Research findings: 33% of Canadians would choose telework over a salary raise: 43% would quit for another job that allows telework.

Morale Telework is a morale builder. Resisting it, especially when your competitors offer it to their staff, damages morale.

Even my company, a major IT corporation, could benefit and improve from the first two alone. Non essential personnel and sites are closed for work but you have to either make up the lost hours or take PTO.

Real estate & office costs Your organization could save 1 office for every 3 teleworkers (that's about $2,000 per teleworker per year, or $200,000 per 100 teleworkers).
With telework, AT&T saved $3,000 per office for approximately $550 million by eliminating or consolidating office space people no longer need.
About 25% of IBM's 320,000 workers worldwide telecommute from home offices, saving $700 million in real estate costs.

Productivity Dozens of reputable studies have proven that teleworking 1 to 3 days per week easily increases overall employee productivity by 10 to 20% -- a great way to trim overtime and related costs. Doing the math, five to 10 teleworkers equates to one "free" extra worker. This negates the myth that teleworkers will goof off because they are "out of sight."

American Express telecommuters handled 26% more calls and produced 43% more business than their office-based counterparts.
Compaq Computer Corporation documented productivity increases ranging from 15 to 45%.
Surveys and pilots conducted by IBM Canada (where about 20% of its workforce teleworks) indicate that employees can be as much as 50 per cent more productive when they work in telework environments.

Stress & work/life balance Work / home life conflict is the top Canadian job disatisfier. With telework's fewer interruptions and improved productivity help employees catch up on their work; and reduce their stress, burnout risk, going-to-work costs and commuting time. Remember that the total yearly commute of average Canadian workers equates to six to eight full workweeks.

So, perhaps the real budget buster is not necessarily the snow storms and closure of the government and business, but rather the lack of adequate alternative resources for enabling people and businesses to work.

Another good resource site for telecommuting is Telecommuting360.


Tuesday, February 9, 2010

What a spectacle !

A record 106.5 million people, watched the game last weekend, according to Nielson media.

The figure tops the 1983 finale of medical drama M*A*S*H which drew 105.97 million viewers.

So, how could a newpaper, a media outlet, embarrasingly enough here in Virginia, print the wrong score?


Monday, February 8, 2010


The Indianapolis school districts should probably reverse their decision to delay the start of classes by one hour and instead institute a day of morning.

Seems they were counting their trophies before they were earned.

“I do not want to rehash what happened in the Super Bowl last time,” he said, “I’m just trying to be proactive.”

School districts can institute two-hour delays only for emergencies, such as bad weather or utility problems, or loosing the super bowl!

The Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Bennett signaled that he would not look kindly on school districts granting non-emergency delays.

However, there appears to be no contingency plan in place for loosing.

When asked about one for the Super Bowl, Mr Bennett broke out into an impromptu rendition of "I left my heart, in Sun Life Stadium".

Meanwhile, the Louisiana School System has officially announced that "Who Dat" is now an acceptable word in the English Language Dictionary.

Congratulations Saints!


Sunday, February 7, 2010

Welcome To Pompeii, VA

At one point Friday night there were Blizzard Warnings, Reports of Thunder Snow, Flood Warnings and a Tornado Watch in North Carolina.

All from the same storm!

Some places in the area received over 3 feet of snow!

As for us? Well look for yourself...

It all looks pretty, but a lot of that is fallen trees and branches.

Looks like I will have some yard work to do this spring...

Believe it or not, we have two cars and a mini van in the driveway... somewhere...

And now for the "Official" Fumbled Returns Snow Fall Total...


Saturday, February 6, 2010

NFL Stock Portfolio

It only took me 14 months to think of the obvious.

An NFL based stock watch list.

Now, I could have done it on "official" sponsors of the NFL and its teams, but I choose to look for stocks with names or symbols similar to the team names, logos, and in one or two cases marque players.

Some were easier than others. Some were almost impossible (Oakland Raiders) and some had more than one option.

What I find interesting is the results of the past 1 year returns compared to the indexes, my watch lists, and the "pros".

If I had had this portfolio posted last year, and someone had invested equal amounts in each stock, you and I would have been the benefactors of a 70% return!

Consider this my version of the "Monkey Darts" portfolio.

So, here it is, my Fumbled Returns Official NFL Stock Portfolio.

Feel free to find your favorite, make comments or even vote on your favorite choice (especially for those with multiple choices).

I will bee keeping this official and tracking it from here on out.

AFC North

Raven Industries, Inc. ____ RAVN _____ 24%
Bengal Energy LTD ________ BNG.TO ___ 180%
Cleveland Biolabs Inc. ____ CBLI _____ 29%
BigBen Interactive _______ BIG.PA ____ 43%

average 69%

AFC South

Texas Instruments ________ TXN _______ 44%
Colt Telecom Group ______ COLT.L _____ 48%
Jaguar Minning ___________ JAG _______ 86%
Titan Machinery __________ TITN _______ 4%

average 46%

AFC East

Buffalo Wild Wings _______ BWLD _____ 110%
Dolphin Capital Inv ______ DOLHF _____ 39%
Patriout Coal ____________ PCX ______ 200%
JHT Total Stock Index ____ JETSX _____ 29%

average 94%

AFC West

Bronco Drilling Co. _______ BRNC ____ -11%
Kansas City Southern ______ KSU ______ 45%
Oakmark Equity Income _____ OAKBX ____ 20%
Bolt Technology ___________ BOLT _____ 32%

average 21%

AFC Conference Average Return 58%

Alternate Names

Proshares Shortdow30_______ DOG _____ -26%
Pittsburgh and WV RR ______ PW _______ -7%
Global Titans _____________ DGT ______ 26%
Tennessee Power ___________ TVE _______ 0%
Blue Dolphin Energy Co ____ BDCO ______ 6%
New England Bank Shares ___ NEBS ____ -26%
Dolphin Capital Inv _______ DOLHF ____ 39%
MassMutual Prem Index _____ DENVX ____ 24%
Kansas City Life Ins ______ KCLI ____ -18%

NFC North

Citi Group ________________ C ________ -7%
Fidelity Souther Corp _____ LION _____ 81%
Grup Aeroport _____________ PAC ______ 72%
MFS Intermediate Trust ____ MIN _______ 7%

average 38%

NFC South

Falconstor Softwore Inc ___ FALC _____ -10%
Avis Budget Group _________ CAR _____ 1387%
Blackrock International ___ Bresx _____ 34%
The Bank Corp _____________ TBBK _____ 109%

average 380%

NFC East

Delta Airlines ____________ DAL _______ 74%
ishares NYSE ______________ NY ________ 17%
Eagle Bulk Shipping _______ EGLE ______ -41%
Dana Holdings _____________ DAN ______ 1115%

average 291%

NFC West

Cardinal Health ___________ CAH _______ -13%
Stifel Financial __________ SF _________ 37%
Seahawk Drilling __________ HAWK ______ -14%
Sterling Bancorp __________ STL _______ -36%

average -7%

NFC Conference Average Return 186%

Alternate Names

Green Bankshares __________ GRNB ______ -34%
Purple Corporation ________ PRPL ______ -89%
Russel Quantitative _______ REDSX ______ 20%
Formula Systems ___________ FORTY _____ 154%


Friday, February 5, 2010

The double wammy

Here it comes. The ol' one-two knock out punch!

Superbowl Sunday

Snow Storm

This has prompted a mad rush to the stores who just can't seem to keep anything on the shelf.

We're only 18.7 inches away from being the snowiest winter in 100 years, and by everyones projections we are scheduled to get 18 - 24 Friday and Saturday.

And I can't remember the last time we (Washington DC area) had 3 snow events in the same week prompting the crazy school system to close schools 4 out of 5 days!


Thursday, February 4, 2010

De Who Dats Will Set the Record...

For most Super Bowl Revenue Generated.

That is my prediction.

The Colts will ultimately prevail winning the actual game. After all, they have proven more than once that they only need 15 minutes to beat anybody.

I give the Saints 30 minutes of life. Tops.

The Colts, just like Gilbert Arenas, have too many weapons...
And the biggest and best is Peyton.

But, with all the hype I've seen and heard on the Internet about "Who Dat" and rights, and royalty, and Money, I believe that the Saints fans alone will solely responsible for setting a new revenue record.

The record for "Ad Revenue" (selling advertising slots) is approximately $206 million. Judging by the fact that the networks have had to lower their prices this year, I doubt that will happen.

However, I believe, the $125 million merchandise record is in jeopardy. You see, its not just the "Super Bowl" label, it is the aints New Orleans Saints going to the Super Bowl. Now we are not only talking, and buying, super bowl memorabilia, we are buying collector items.

A quick look on Ebay (EBAY)for "New Orleans Saints" produces over 20,000 items.
Amazon (AMZN) had nearly 14,000.

And this of course does not take count all the official NFL stores, and pop-up merchandise stands now populating the great state of Florida.

Who knows when this will happen again.

So enjoy it, buy the collector items now before the Super Bowl, because they will not be worth quite as much this coming Monday morning.

But hey, I've been wrong before, and if by some miraculous chance the Saints do pull this off, the prices and sales will go through the roof and all you true Saints fans better keep an extra collector item or two safely sealed inside the original wrapping.

But most importantly, turn on the game and enjoy the entertainment. If anybody can give the Colts and Peyton a run for their money, it is the defensive genius of Gregg Williams.

And don't worry about the game being a dud, we all know that the super bowl brings out some of the more creative ads from various companies such as these two finalist clips from Doritos. So grab your drinks, food, and even some good friends, turn on the TV this Super Bowl Sunday and Enjoy!

I know I will be watching.


Wednesday, February 3, 2010

The Economy is great !

You can find deals everywhere from Walmart (WMT), to Verizon (VZ) and AT&T (T), to fast food chains (Mcdonalds (MCD) and Burger King (BKC) $1 value items), to online brokerage firms (Both Schwab (SCHW) and Fidelity undercut the fee schedule of $7.99-$12.99 for most E*Trade (ETFC) transactions and a flat $9.99 for all Ameritrade (AMTD) trades), to; yes, even credit card companies.

This is a perfect example of deflation which is affecting nearly all parts of the economy.

All of the "excesses" of the previous economy, which was behind both the boom and the bust, have now created a climate of deflation.

Of course this is not good for businesses, as they now have to not only struggle with less consumer spending but now they have to deal with less revenue streams, and reduction in profit margins.

Yes, there is always two sides to a coin, and always a sword with two edges. The result of this economy unfortunately also translates into added pressure on people with lower salaries, unemployment, and defaults in credit and loans.

There is no utopia. There will always be a certain amount of insecurity, risk and "bad side" to everything in life. But there will always be the "good side" as well.

This reminds me of a quote I heard, "There is no security, only opportunity".

Today's economy, though far from perfect, has created opportunity.

Here is how I have taken advantage of some of this opportunity.

Credit Cards:

One of my resolutions this year is to reduce, hopefully eliminate, non housing debt.
One step I have towards doing this is to open a credit card account with a 0% interest and fee promotion. This last for up to 12 months depending on ones credit history and score.

The good side - no interest on balances for 12 months. This means my monthly payments go entirely to paying down the principle balance.

Of course as I pay down that amount, I apply (no matter how small an amount) the savings next month to my payment.

Coupons and Promotions:

This first month alone, we have been able to take advantage of department and grocery store promotions and coupons to save on everyday purchases. This enables me to apply these savings to paying down my debt even more.

So, how have all you readers, bloggers and Internet surfers out there found ways to save and take advantage of opportunity?


Tuesday, February 2, 2010

You can do something amazing...

Like become Miss America


Win the MVP award in the Pro Bowl.

Yup it sure was a good weekend for Virginia students, athletes and universities!

First, Caressa Cameron from VCU won the Miss America pageant.

And to think that she thought her only talent was singing...

Caressa worked hard to perfect her chances in the pageant and successfully navigated her way through grueling questions like the one which stumbled Miss California Carrie Prejean last year.

And I did read somewhere that she is a 'Goofy Foot' which means that most pageant contestants lead with their right foot but she leads with her left. Now, this is not goofy at all! After all any good sports coach will tell you that if you are a righty, you lead with your left.

I think all the other contestants are 'goofy'.

She does have good advice for all the young kids out there and surprisingly enough, it is not to go to school, study, work hard, or even do well...

"We need to get our kids back outside, playing with sticks in the street like I did when I was little,"

Gee, I hope she was talking about hockey...

The other big winners this past weekend came from the the pro bowl. The ACC takes the trophy for most players in the pro bowl this year. All in all there were 23 ACC players in the pro bowl.

3 of them came from Virginia.

D’Brickashaw Ferguson, Heath Miller, and Matt Schaub.

Matt Schaub had a 98 passer rating this year with 4770 yards passing and 29 TD's.
And he won the MVP award in the pro bowl.

Congratulations Matt!

So, does Caressa have any advice for Matt?

Well, as any good communications major should, she does appear to be working on her delivery, release point, and of course she is leading with her left !!!

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