Friday, March 31, 2006

Amazing Friday

  • Friday at the oasis...
  • The market is doingnothing.  I ran the Black Box last night and was looking at the semiconductors.  As you know, I bought some a few weeks ago to add some go-go juice to my portfolio.  I also bought some tech and small cap growth.  I don't use the MACD that much, as it's a little on the lagging side.  But I do look at it.  Notice how the MACD worked it's way down while the semiconductors just moved sideways.  It crossed up a few days ago, which some people claim is bullish.  We'll see.  I am seeing some negative divergences out there, though.  Still long. Still strong. 
  • Not surprising to see some profit taking in the Nasdaq this friday.  I think even though we are at the end of the month and subject to some end of quarter, end of month, and end of week shenanigans, the new month should see some 401k buys as folks dollar cost average into their mutual funds.  After that, who knows?  Folks might have some taxes to pay.
  • I had this dream last night that I was running the fantasy football league for my office.  And for some reason, after the draft everyone had the same exact teams that they had last year.  So I had to have a 2nd draft the 2nd week.   But then the software wouldn't work to keep track of the draft.  What the heck does that all mean?  Stressed at work?
  • Finaly caught up with The Apprentice, as Dan was booted off.  I think Tarek needs to go; he's just a disaster.  So is Lenny, but at least he's funny.  That cruise ship ad they did was pretty bad.  If instead of the guy stranded on a raft (shipwrecked), they could've had the guy bored at work or something.  Same concept.  Who wants to show a shipwrecked guy on an ad for cruise ships anyways?  That's just bad mojo.
  • Also caught up with America's Next Top Model, where Gina was cut loose.  She was very pretty, but very annoying.  Sheez.  I'm pulling for Sara.  She's from Davis, which is just across the bypass from here.
  • Also caught up with The Amazing Race, where the Dani girls got yielded and then blew the statue making Roadblock.  They're gone.  I think I'm pulling for the hippy guys on this one.  They're pretty funny.
  • More later...

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Quick Hits (Market, Lost, American Idol)

  • On yesterday's realmoney radio show, Jim Cramer said that he "puts his mouth where his money is," and then quickly realized what he said and added "and vice-versa."  Kind of funny, though.  Doesn't that mean or at least imply something totally different?  Just giving you something to think about.
  • You know what sector is starting to look interesting from the Black Box point of view?  The utes!  (Utilities!)  My Black Box has given a shout out to IDU, the utility ETF the past couple days.  I'm not doing anything about it here.  I do like to look for a potential buy of utilities ahead of summer.  Maybe this is it, but I'm going to pass this round.  But I'll keep an eye on 'em.
  • I was surprised that McPheever was one of the bottom two.  Clearly Ace and Lisa deserved to be there, and Cosby Kid Lisa had to go.  Don't worry.  Ace will be let go soon (I think).  Next week is country music week, although Bucky and Pickler sang that genre this week.  It'll be interesting to see if Vin Deisel (Chris) tries to add a twang to Creed...
  • On Lost last night, some interesting goings on in the hatch.  I think those metal gates shut down due to the airdrop of supplies.  But here's my question:  If all John (and prisoner) had to do was go through the ventilation shaft to escape the hatch's living quarters and go push the button, why did they bother trying to life up the metal gate?  Even if he wanted to pry open the gate, why use the flimsy tool box when minutes later, the prisoner was sticking metal weight plates under it to keep it from crushing John's legs?  Shouldn't John have put those plates under the door before he tried to squeeze under?
  • The market is pulling back a bit today.  Surged early, then profit taking kicked in.  I'd like to see us power up and higher into a new trading range.  In the back of my mind is the thought that we will see an election year swoon in the markets this year, but from what levels... ah.... If I only had a crystal ball!

Wednesday, March 29, 2006


  • Ah, patience.  Mr. Miyagi taught Daniel-san about patience in Karate Kid.  It's the toughest thing about investing.  We all want to see instant results.  We buy stocks, we expect them to immediately move up.  We sell stocks, and we sit on the sidelines expecting the market to tank and prove us to be wise.  Rarely does the market provide such instant gratification.  In fact, I think the market teases us and lets doubt creep in, driving us to second guess our decisions and make emotional decisions.  Wax on, wax off, Mr. Miyagi.
  • The market looks strong this morning.  Semis and Techs seem to be leading the way.  Small cap growth looks good, too.
  • The anti-free market folks in France (most of the population) are sure upset with the idea that workers could be fired.  Unemployment in France is just under 10%, but over 20% for young folks.
  • American idol was pretty painful last night.  I think sticking one's head in a bucket of suds would've been better...  The worst: Lisa and Ace.  Paula asking about Ace's scare was pretty strange, considering the American Idol gossip.  I still think Lisa looks like a Cosby kid.  The best:  Paris and Taylor.   Bizarre song choices:  Mandisa and Chris.  Okay, maybe Pickler should be in that list, too.  Elliot and McPheever sang well enough to get past this week's elimination.  I can't understand Bucky either, but he did okay this week.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006


  • You know I love the TV show 24.  I do.  But CTU seems so dysfunctional, and now Homeland Security is trying to takeover CTU.  Of course, perhaps a dysfunctional Homeland Security is an accurate real-world scenario.  On second thought, scratch my initial comment.  It's a government agency.  It's supposed to be dysfunctional.  I'm surprised more folks (govt workers) aren't just standing around sippin' coffee during the crisis.  "Where are we going for lunch?"
  • I don't know if this is today's business, but we're going to have to keep an eye on Helicopter Ben and The Fed.  If they want to raise interest rates so high that our ears bleed, that'll make an attractive alternative to stocks.  Why take stock risk if a money market fund will pay you 5%? 
  • Folks seem to be tired of the market.  The SP500 is still up near the bull market highs and up nearly 4% year to date.  It's kind of boring without tech leading the way and seeing some speculation.  That'll come.
  • Month-end strength on the horizon...
  • American Idol tonight!  Who's next to go, Bucky or Lisa?

Monday, March 27, 2006

Monday Quick Hits

  • The markets...  Well not much going on as the market waits for the Bernanke catalyst.  I do like the move in tech/semis, and continue to see the beta working well.  Of course, this could change on a dime should Bernanke say the wrong thing tomorrow.
  • I didn't make it to the casino this weekend.  But I did go to Costco and blow $200.  Kind of the same thing, really. 
  • Not doing anything yet as of right now, but watching SNE.  I think their Playstation 3 will be a mumbo-jumbo event.  From what levels... Ah, that's the question.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Eat Bacon 24x7

  • Heart healthy pigs! U.S. scientists said on Sunday they had genetically engineered pigs that make beneficial fatty acids and may one day serve as a healthier source of pork chops or bacon.  A diet centered around bacon would be an instant best seller.  "Would you like to add some bacon to that cheeseburger?"  ABSO-FRIKKEN-LUTELY!
  • I've been working on a new Black Box scan for small cap stocks, but haven't worked out the kinks yet.  Lack of time! 
  • I remain fully invested heading into this week.  I have some tech, semis, and small cap growth beta.  We have Bernanke early in the week, and month-end strengh wrapping up the week.  So it should be something more than boring...
  • OK, so I did take saturday off from the Fun Factory and go drink beer and watch the NCAA March Madness games.   That UCLA-Memphis games was one of the ugliest games I've ever seen.  But LSU looked very impressive in beating Texas.  Should be an interesting game next week.
  • So yes... That means I am working today on sunday.  I'm hoping this is the last of it for awhile.  Seeing the light at the end of the tunnel, and hoping it isn't an oncoming train!
  • A video game based on Desperate HousewivesIn the game, players take on the role of a new Wisteria Lane housewife, who can uncover or create new scandals on the seemingly idyllic street where the show takes place.

Friday, March 24, 2006

Friday Black Box Thoughts

  • The Black Box indicated on monday that techs and semis were trying to get some mojo, and that DVY and GE were losing it. OK, not bad.  Looking at it tonight for more than a glance (too busy recently), things still look the same.  I've had some tech, semis, and small cap growth for a couple weeks now.  The small cap growth has been most impressive to date.  My thoughts remain that Bernanke will be the early tell next week, and a catalyst for something.  He seems to have spooked the market a bit recently, but we're still near the highs.  In addition, we'll have potentila month-end strength ramping up later in the week.  Could be a week that sees the bears and sideliners get performance anxiety.  Stay tuned!
  • Yahoo now has phone service with their Instant Messenger.  Looks like about 2-cents a minute calls to landlines or cellphones, and free calls to anyone else using Yahoo IM.  Seems to me that I need the wireless Origami from Microsoft and Yahoo IM, then I can cancel my landline, cable internet, and cellphone.
  • Have you had a shake shake shake from Carl's Jr?  Just did.  Eh.  Good commercial, though.

Friday's Quick Hits

  • I completely forgot about the NCAA March Madness games yesterday.  Totally forgot.  HOLY SMOKES.  Must be working too hard.  I came home, and just fired up some shows I had recorded on the PC.  Caught up on The Apprentice, Amazing Race, and America's Next Top Model.
  • The market?  Well it continues to be the back and forth wave pool this week.  We're up today so far.  I'm still long with a little beta, and hoping that the next positive catalyst for the market will be next week with the Fed meeting and end of month strength.  We. Shall. See.
  • What's going on at Microsoft?  First, they announce that Vista is going to be late.  Today, they announce that the new Office is going to be late.  And even with the XBOX 360, the release of new consoles has been slow.
  • On The Apprentice, I'm amazed Brent had gone this far.  But on the otherhand, I feel sorry for the guy.  Maybe he did it all to himself, but he was sure marginalized by the rest of the folks.  Charmaine stepped it up with a good effort on the Grape Nuts Trail Mix billboard.  It was Bryce's idea, but she did make it all seem calm and effortless.
  • Geez, Gonzaga was up on UCLA by 17 I'm told.  Holy smokes.
  • Lunch.... Subway.
  • On America's Next Top Model, I'm surprised Gina is still on there.  I can't think she'll be on there much longer.  I think they're hoping she'll show some improvement in her coachability.  We'll see next week.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Really Quick Hits!

  • Earlier this week, I mentioned that a flat to down week might be what we see this week.  Being after options and ahead of Bernanke and month-end strength, it looks to be playing out that way.   People seem to be flipping things around day to day, and the market can't seem to gain much traction in either direction.  If fridays move opposite of the weekly trend, I'd almost expect it to start up or down early, the reverse down or up later.  Because that's what it's done all week!
  • Chicken Little deserved to be voted off the American Idol island.  This wasn't his worst week, but we're running out of folks.  I think Bucky and Cosby Kid Lisa might be soon departed...
  • Trying to wrap things up here at the Fun Factory for a major project.  Due in a couple weeks.  We're in good shape, but it's just hectic right now.  Tying up some loose ends, etc.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Ain't Got Time to Blog!

  • That's right. I got  hit hard at the Fun Factory, so I missed the excitement of the day's reversal in the market.  After running my scans tonight, I still think tech and semis don't look too bad, but the safer stocks, regional banks, DVY, etc., continue to look week.  I'm still hoping we tread water until monthly strength hits.  Seems like fear is in the air.  And whenever Bush speaks, it doesn't ignite confidence in stock buyers.
  • American Idol was okay tonight.  I think Kellie Pickler did the best.  The lil' Minx...  I think Chicken Little, Bucky or Lisa  needs to be voted off.  Ace Young wasn't that great, either.  Hey, doesn't Lisa look like a Cosby show kid?
  • I caught Cramerica (radio version) from monday.  Not any stock tips, but I do like Cramer's fundamental view of societal trends.  He was talking about how poorly movie theaters are doing, and said that America is spending money buying home theaters with their new houses.  Heck, I did that and subscribed to Netflix.  I rarely go to a theater anymore.  Maybe others are making that same decision.  I much rather watch DVDs on my bigscreen, flop on the sofa and munch on corn chips.  It doesn't feel as bad watching all the Jessica Alba B-movies you can stand for $17 a month compared to $9.50 a pop (plus snacks) at the theater.
  • I think tomorrow will be another late day at the Fun Factory.  More fun than a human can tolerate!

Monday, March 20, 2006

Black Box Thoughts

  • I'm generally bullish and believe the trend is up. I use my Black Box scans as intermediate tells to increase or decrease volatility.  Nothing I'm seeing today will cause me to do anything.  I'm still 100% long, with some beta that I added the week prior to options week.
  • Running my scans, and seeing some sells the past two sessions in DVY and regional banks.  A sell on the retail Holders, too.  Nasdaq 100 and the semis look to be trying to turn up here, but no signal yet.  Not that any of this means anything but I thought I'd mention it.   Maybe a flat to slightly down week here heading into monthly strength next week would be a good thing.
  • I had a buy signal on GE in early February, and now it's looking kind of toppy and could generate a sell anytime.  I didn't buy any in February, unfortunately. 
  • I had a sell on PNC awhile back, and it continues to look weak. 
  • Eh, we'll see. I get lots of buys and sells from the Black Box, and I usually use them in context with other things before I do anything or nothing.  But when I get triggers from some of the bigger names or high volume ETFs, then I do a bit more research.

Quick Hits

"Look, I spenda lot of time in this boardroom. This boardroom is one of the best boardrooms in New York city.  I have meetings in this boardroom year round.  Many important people come to this boardroom.  But none are as important as me.  About 9 months ago, I had a meeting in this boardroom with my wife Melania. George and Carolyn were at that meeting, and they said it was a fantastic meeting. That's it.  Now go."

  • The Simpsons getting a new contract for 2 more seasons! 
  • The Federal debt ceiling is now at $9.065 trillion, after being extended last week on a 52-48 vote in the Senate.  That's a big number.

  • Don't forget to watch "24" tonight and DVR The Apprentice!
  • "24" random plot generator.  Pretty good!
  • "24" video game.  Quite the interactive site.  Seems kind of interesting.
  • Eventually, the bird flu will be here.  On CNBC's Kudlow (KLo) show right now, they're saying by next year.  KLo asking Gary Hart, "So, just cook the chicken?"  KLo asks Pat Buchanon "Is bird flu caused by free trade and birds flying here?  Should we erect a barrier?"  KLo asks Steve Forbes if the "White House staff" can handle this emergency.  KLo asks Ralph Nader about the media, and Nader comes back calling Bush the "Mayor of Baghdad" and that we need to spend more money and time on the real weapons of mass destruction like bird flu.
  • Are you watching the goings-on in France these days?  Riots.  One thing I remember from history, is that you don't want to have a lot of unemployed young men in the country.  That's not a stablizing force.  That's the kind of thing that leads to revolutions. 

Don't Let the Bedbugs Bite

  • Last night on NBC's Dateline, they ran a story about bedbugs. Yes, those bedbugs. The insects of beddy-bye rhymes. After being gone for decades due to heavy pesticide and insecticide use, they seem to be back, and infesting hotels and dorms. The story surmised that they've come from overseas on travelers.
  • Last night I had a dream that I was bitten by a bug, had a rash all over, and had to go to the doctor. Shame on me for even watching that dumb NBC Dateline anyways!

  • It's been almost a week since I've looked at my stock charts. I've read some blogs and some guru opinions. Most are still anticipating a major correction or bear market.  The market action last week didn't sound too healthy.  I'm running my scans now, so more later.  But we know that if options week was positive, the following week tends to be negative ahead of end-of-month strength.
  • I also caught up on The Apprentice last night, and so far the shows have been good. Last week, Charmaine did make some boneheaded calls and might've been eliminated if she had been brought into the boardroom. Looks like Brent is going to implode tonight. Although I'm  hoping he sticks around for a few more weeks just to make things crazy.

  • The trip to Nevada for March Madness was fun.  I ended up being slightly over .500 on the sports bets and lost a little at the tables.  The big surprises from Madness are Wichita State, Bradley and George Mason.  I pull for the underdogs, so I'm hoping they keep runnin'...

Friday, March 17, 2006

Later That Night

OK, slot machines ceased being my friends.

I'm at some diner. Veggie burger. My friends either crashed or are playing at the tables. I'll heae there next.

I feel like I've lost contact with the real world. Oh sure, I see Fox new in the Hotel with all these politicians. The more I see politicians the more I think they're morons. I can also listen to streams from the web on my Treo. But... What is going on out there? The dude on my finance stream is talking about the housing bubble and everyone else is comparing Bush to Hitler.

Eh whatever.

Pretty exciting blogging from Las Vegas eh? Well...

I like Duke giving nine tomorrow.

March Madness: Friday

Okay, so I've been drunk for three days straight. Don't judge me.

I've hardly had anything to eat today except for a couple of salads. Oh... and beer. Which I'm now officially calling biodeisel for humans.

My buddy shacked up with an asian blackjack dealer last night. I tried with a few and thought I was setting up pretty for one... eh, nuthin. The joke was on me.

Oh... the market. I have no idea. I'll be home sunday to run scans but nothing really happened while I've been away running on human biodeisel anyways.

I'm still running even on sports bets but making some on the slots.

Thanks to those who emailed me that Melissa got the boot from the American Idol island. She needed to go....

Okay... the night is still young...


Thursday, March 16, 2006

March Madness: Thursday

First of all, I've about had it with that Applebee's commercial...

Looks like I'm going to go 50-50 today if the late games continue their current path. Darn hooks. And I thought I had that Pacific game!

I loosely followed the market so I'm not sure what to think. I checked a few boards and blogs, and it seems as if folks are expecting a major selloff. I'm staying long.

I just realized that I don't know who was eliminated on American Idol!

The sports bars are packed...

Fridays tend to move opposite of the weekly trend. So we will see if that plays out or if folks are watching hoops and drinking green beer

Wednesday, March 15, 2006


Two wins and zero losses so far. Had Notre Dame -5 and Minnesota -2.5. Also took Phoenix -4.5 against the Clippers tonight to make it 3-0....

Daunte Culpepper to the Dolphins... I wouldn't print the Super Bowl tickets just yet.

The market closed near the highs today. I'll be away from my BLACK BOX the next few days, but I'm just staying long.

That's it from The Silver State for now... I'm pulling for UCLA all the way.

Wednesday Market Thoughts

  • Investors Intelligence bull-bear survey out again, and bearishness is increasing.Amazing. Normally as the market advances, people get more bullish.  But here we are in an election year, and pretty much everyone is aware of the 4-year election cycle.  Most of the mid-term elections have seen some big selloffs in the market, followed by a big rally into the following year.  I wonder how much this is playing into investor psychology?  I wonder what CNBC's Melissa Lee would think about that?
  • Sony delays Playstation 3 release until November. This may not be a bad thing, because it'll get Christmas  hype.  That's one stock I may consider down the road.  The PS3 launch date has been the subject of heavy speculation in the industry as expectations are high for the machine, which will have cutting-edge technology and is expected to enable users to play games and movies as well as download videos from the Internet.  The article says it'll cost around $500 and have 5-10 games initially available.
  • I've noticed that during a positive options week, we have one big scarey down day.
  • Beige Book out.... Moderate to steady expansion.  Real estate slowed a bit from high levels.  Auto sales sluggish.  Upbeat on manufacturing.  Consumer spending expanding.  Not a lot of wage pressure despite low inflation.
  • I'm taking off on vacation for a few days. Heading to Las Vegas with the guys for a few days. I'll post a few entries via my Treo along the way.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

American Idol: The Stevie Wonder Version

Hoo, this is quite boring. I'm on the exercise bike watching it, with the notebook wedged in the handlebars. I' struggling to keep the cadence up. C'mon, folks!

Quick Hits

  • Even though I'm bullish and invested with beta, I see the market up and my first thought is "Gee, I wonder how long it'll be until this one reverses?" Doesn't that sort of thing get drilled into our psyche after seeing it happen for what seems like day after day? That's why I have to be patient. Overtrading doesn't work for me.

  • On 24 last night, (DVR spoiler alert)... Of course they escaped from the gas attack on CTU.  Well, 40% of them. The Hobbit didn't make it, though. And now that CTU has been incapacitated, Homeland Security is taking over! So there is your set up for next week's conflict.

  • March Madness is going to be streamed over the web.  For free. 

  • Ipod's and hearing loss. What? Actually, this is all about earbuds and how they affect hearing. Anything playing loud over the long term is probably damaging. Of course, I guess we'll study it and come up with some conclusion that loud noises damage hearing. Even listening to Cramer's realmoney on a jog. Booyah!

  • I lost a lot of weight when I went vegetarian.  Oh, now there's a study about it. Switching to vegetarian keeps weight down"Contrary to current popular views that a diet low in carbohydrates and high in protein keeps weight down, we found that the lowest weight gain came in people with high intake of carbohydrates and low intake of protein," said Professor Tim Key. Yup.  That's what I've noticed. As soon

In Edit: As Gail commented, I did forget to complete that last sentence. As soon as I go off my veggie diet and eat a little chicken or fish now and then, it doesn't take long before I've gained 5 pounds. Kind of strange, even if I'm eating healthy.

Monday, March 13, 2006

The Biggest Show in Cramerica!

When I first started listening to realmoney radio on my nightly jogs last year, I'd hear Cramer mention a stock or two and mention why he liked it.  Sometimes his fundamental reason for liking a stock would grab my curiosity, so I'd look it up and run it through my Black Box and see if it looked interesting from my vantage point.  Sometimes it did.  Usually it didn't.

But the show has lost the ability to provide me with any sort of fundamental value.  Just the mention of a stock can send it rising or falling almost immediately.  Whatever interest I may have had in a stock suddenly is wiped away as the stock gaps in one direction.  It seems as if those who watch the TV show are tuning into the radio show, trying to get a preview of what might be talked about afterhours on TV.   This is a shame, because I value hearing other perspectives on the market.  But this sort of action diminishes whatever value that had for me.

I recognize what it's all about at this point.  It's about entertainment.  It's about being the biggest show in town.  The circus has come to town!  And I never much liked the circus.  The clowns always scared me.  Maybe that was my body's self-defense mechanism kicking in, warning me to avoid clowns.  So, that's what I do.

Market Thoughts

Another fun-filled day in the market, with the market starting up early and reversing and trending down the rest of the day. The good news is that advancer led decliners, yet everyone seemingly remains pessimistic. Folks keep expecting a rotation into large caps, since small caps have outperformed in recent years. I'm diversified, but did increase beta in the last half of last week with some semiconductors and small caps.

While February tends to be weak and March tends to be strong, we haven't seen that play out this year. March often times sees a low and a strong rally. March often times sees a temporary top in the market, too. We are in an election year, and can't ignore the possibility of the typical 4-yr election swoon. However, with bearishness this high (as noted yesterday), it's hard to believe that those bears aren't already out of the market. The only thing they can do now to influence the market is to cover shorts or buy back in. I'd think...

AMD got shellacked today on rumors of a price war with Intel. Just an observation, but I can't imagine price wars are a good thing for the stocks involved.

Too early to tell if the monthly trend of options week strength will play out. If the week prior to options week is weak, then options week tends to be strong Last week was definitely lackluster. Sorry to keep bleating about "too many bears." It probably sounds old. My theory remains that the bears haven't been able to do much damage considering the pessimistic views shown in the Investors Intelligence survey. If this is all they have, then I think the market goes higher.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Investor Sentiment and March Madness

  • There is a big debate going on between those who think everyone is bullish vs everyone who thinks everyone is bearish. Just who is right? An interest column is up at Decisionpoint that graphs the market vs. the Investors Intelligence survey.  (See link for chart).  Excerpt:

"...a divergence has developed in the Investors Intelligence Advisor Sentiment poll that I have to interpret as bullish. Note on the chart below how the percentage of bulls has dropped, the percentage of bears has increased, and the Bull/Bear Ratio is at its lowest point since the August 2004 low, which marked the end of the longest and deepest correction of the current bull market. "

  • I've been saying the same thing that they mention at Decision point.  Normally, as the market rises sentiment becomes more bullish.  But this time, we've seen the number of bears increase.  Amazing. I think the market is going up. Near the end of the week, I became more aggressive in my holdings and moved some cash into higher beta holdings. When the market is weak ahead of options week, normally options week is positive. We didn't see that strength kick in near the end of last week as aI thought, but the market really isn't that far from the highs. I see the head and shoulders pattern in the QQQQ, but that's not a very reliable pattern (IMHO). I don't invest by stock charts, either. Although I will concede that stock charts are a great way to predict the past!

  • The season 3 finale of Battlestar Galactica was a good one.  90 minutes found President Rosalyn trying to steal the election, and ultimately giving the reigns to Baltar.  Baltar then decides to habitate a planet they found that they think is hidden from the Cylons.  Most folks leave and populate the planet.  Then... the Cylons come and Baltar surrenders.  But the Galactica and Pegusus jump away from the planet when they detect the Cylon base ships.  There is your cliffhanger.  You have to wait until October for the start of season 4!
  • Speaking of the Sci Fi channel, they're coming out with a new Dr. Who series starting next friday.
  • I have some NCAA hoops on.  For some reason, having some problems getting into the conference tournies.  The dance starts this coming week!
  • How does March Madness affect the stock market?

You might wonder what your team's losing has to do with investing. But it actually has a lot to do with it. A recent academic study found that investors act irrationally in their despair following losses by their favorite teams.

  • Looks like Arnold Schwarzenegger's mega-bond hopes are toast for the June election. Probably would've passed. People love to borrow money.  Now of course we still have the very lame Free Preschool For All measure on the June ballot. It basically subsidizes pre-school for the folks who are paying it out of their pockets today. (Mostly middle class and rich folks). 62% of kids already go to preschool, and this legislation hopes to increase that to 70% but then shift all the costs to the taxpayers. The rich tax bracket will go up 2% to 11%. Wow, more folks moving out of state on this one I think...
  • Added Stockdigg to the list of links to the right. It's an interesting site to see what folks are reading and recommending. It contains financial news and user-submitted stories (e.g. stock picks and analysis) and individual stock rankings by investors. Folks recommend links by "tagging" them. Check it out...

Saturday, March 11, 2006

The Movie Business

After the Oscars last week, I was thinking about movies. Movie theaters are seeing declining attendance. I think it was down 8% last year from the year before. Why is that?

First, home theaters are pretty nice these days. I often mention the long lines at Best Buy every weekend. Folks are setting up their plasma TVs and big screens, and wiring in surround sound. Instead of fighting traffic, parking, paying nearly $10 a ticket, another $10 for a soda and popcorn, sitting behind someone with big hair and in front of someone who kicks your chair and talks through the movie, the alternative is sitting on your sofa munching on corn chips and watching a DVD on your big screen.

Getting movies to your house is easier than ever. You don't have to drive anywhere anymore. Most cable and satellite companies have video on demand these days. Netflix will let you shop online and send you the movies. A new service n some areas gives you a box with 200 movies on it, and every week automatically replaces 10 movies with new releases. You pay for what you watch. There are other services coming that will let you download movies for a fee.

And lets face it, the Oscars championed movies that weren't even the most popular movies. Many of the movies dealt with controversial topics that don't sit well with a lot of folks. I read that the best an Oscar movie could do with the public, is rank 27th. The movie industry is making a lot of movies we don't want to see. If the theater isn't showing something people want to watch, why not just Netflix something you do want to see? That's what people are doing. I recently watched a few TV series I had missed, and Netflixed some movies from a few years back that I didn't have time to see at the theater.

I think that's what's going on with the movie business. This is why the Oscars wasn't watched by many folks. This is why the home theater business and the stores that sell the gear are doing well.

Just some Saturday thoughts. I Netflixed March of the Penguins and the Enron movie this week. I watched every feature on that March of the Penguins DVD. What a fantastic job those folks did.

Friday, March 10, 2006

Quick Hits (American Idol, Stock Market)

  • American Idol narrowed the field down to 12 last night.  On the boys' side, no surprise that Peter Brady (Will Makar) was eliminated.  When he had to perform the rendition of the song that got him eliminated, I was hoping he'd do the one from the Brady Bunch singing episode...  "When your voice has changed, oh when your voice has changed..."  Know what I mean?  I'm surprised Chicken Little survived and that Gideon got voted off.
  • On the woman's side, no surprise that Kinnik was eliminated.  I thought Melissa was a little worse than Ayla, but neither of them were going to last long anyways.
  • The market seems to be putting in a contra-friday.  If the week has had a strong trend, fridays tend to move in the opposite direction.  We've trended nothing but down this week, so maybe we're seeing some profit taking.  It's up in the air whether we'll get an options week rally next week.  I've positioned myself with some increased beta the last two days, adding semiconductors and small cap go-go's.  We.  Shall.  See.
  • How about those Syracuse Orangemen?

  • Peter Brady sure looks a lot like Will Makar, don't you think?
  • Some of the fallout from eliminating the UAE Dubai ports deal, is that they're (Dubai) now cancelling some contracts with US companies.  Way to go. Now we're alienating what was one of our few friends over there. You wonder if we're just going to be in a perpetual state of war with the Arab world from here on out.

How to Get Rich!


Out on a jog last night, I was listening to Rob Black's podcast and he was cracking me up.  He's a financial guy from somewhere in the SF Bay Area with a nightly drive radio show.  Can't pick it up here in the valley so I subscribe to the podcast feed (iTunes... RSS...).

Black was discussing a seminar coming to the Bay Area that included Donald Trump, Suze Orman, Tim Robbins, and Robert Kiyosaki.  The price tag for the seminar is something like $399 per person.  Black wondered out loud if anyone attending that seminar would learn anything that would help them become millionaires.  Oh, he said some other things about that seminar and those giving the presentations, but you'll have to listen to wednesday's podcast to find out.

Black said that most of the 7 million millionaires in America got rich from saving and investing over the course of their lifetimes.  (My addition would be that they avoided debt, too.)  And some got rich from inheriting wealth.  Paraphrasing, Black said "If you want to get rich, you have to do it like most of the 7 million millionaires in America.  You max out your retirement accounts (401k plans and IRAs), you invest monthly into a diversified portfolio of stocks over a long period of time, and with the rest of your money you sit on your sofa, watch movies, and eat corn chips."

I think most of America needs to work on that first part, but we probably all have that last part down pretty good!

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Quick Hits

  • I was listening to Rob Black's podcast from yesterday, and he made an interesting comment on Tivo.  He was saying that they're charging for some monthly service somewhere under $20 a month.  It all depends on your term.  Anyways, Tivo is introducing some features that let you program your DVR from the web or cellphone.  But will folks sign on for that service or just pay the cable company $5-6 a month for their box?  I agree with Rob.  I think it's the latter.  (Or like me, just get a PC with Windows XP media center and spend the $6 a month on mochas.  Soy decaf mochas, of course.)
  • Well, I'm only up a smidge from the semiconductor buys of yesterday.  I had the fleeting thought early about booking some profits, even at a few percent.  But it was fleeting, as were my gains.  I added some more beta today with small cap growth kind of stuff.  Fridays tend to move opposite the weekly trend as traders book profits ahead of the weekend, and I'm still thinking we're moving higher despite the recent pullback.  Maybe my playbook is all jacked up.  We.  Shall.  See. 

  • I'm still waiting for that new AC/DC album.   Angus?  Malcom?  Brian?  Anyone?  As I sit here late on a thursday, I've got Thunderstruck rippin' my eardrums.  Nobody does hooks like those fellas.
  • I am a fan of the Donnas, though.
  • A blog I'll be adding to the list-o-links soon, is The Shark Report.  Looks like DAVID will be posting a counterpoint to the "buy strength" mantra.  Always worth a read over there.
  • Thursday used to be must watch TV, and although we have yet another episode of American Idol on the tele, it's a little rough around the dial tonight.  Smallville, Beauty and the Geek, college hoops... I have some DVR stuff to ketchup on.
  • Hey, I just noticed that DAVID linked to me.  Man, back at ya.  I'm doing it now!
  • As you may know, I've been stressing a bit here at The Fun Factory recently.   It's even causing a bit of insomnia, as I toss and turn and go over and over design decisions in the wee hours of the night.  But as I was working with a coder today, I  realized that we're making progress.  Not only that, but we're looking sweet for the end of March deadlines.  There are still challenges and sleepless nights ahead, but I'm quite happy with the crew right now.
  • Now the Scorpians are rippin' in my ears.  Have I mentioned that I went and saw them a bunch of times in concert in the 80's?  I had so much fun, that I don't remember any of them.  Sheesh.  Those were the days.


Microsoft unveils 'Origami', a paperback-book sized portable computer, which is a hybrid between a laptop PC and a host of mobile devices that the world's biggest software maker hopes will create an entirely new market.

  • The article lists the price as between $500-99, with a battery life of 3 hours.  I'm all for the convergence of mobility and technology, and I think this is a great first step.  Or whatever step we're on at this point.  I'm not sure I'm interested in one of those over a smartphone like the Treo.  The 3 hour battery life bothers me, although they hope to increase the length to an "all day battery."  Maybe this is more attractive to business users, but I'm not sure the public will rush to it. 

  • My buy on semiconductors yesterday morning looked great until about mid-morning today.  Seems like the bears are in control.  The early bounce was faded pretty quickly and there is red red everywhere red.   There are a lot of bears though.  I'm still in pre-options week mode and thinking this weakness will produce a rally.  We shall see.
  • On Cramerica (the radio version) yesterday, Jim Cramer was saying how horrible this market is and how bad things have been.  Isn't the SP500 just a couple percent from the highs?  Pullbacks are normal.  Things just don't go up in a straight line.  Of course, maybe some of the go-go stocks (like oil) have been dismal lately.  So for folks with undiversified portfolios concentrated in sectors that are tanking, I suppose things are quite bad.
  • So, nicknames for the guys on American Idol?  Some came from the show but others are obvious.... The Hobbit, Eddie Money, Peter Brady, Chicken Little, Vin Diesel, Ace (who needs a nickname when your name is Ace?)...  I don't know about Bucky or the first guy who sang last night (and I missed).  I think Chicken Little and Peter Brady need to be voted off the island.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Give Me Beta!

Everyone sure seems worried, Muck.

  • The market?  I increased my beta this morning and added some semiconductors.  As you know, the bearish sentiment is extreme and now even the contrarians who have been saying this seem to be taking their losses and getting defensive.  I think this is a perfect set up ahead of options week, so lets see what happens.
  • On American Idol last night, I thought Katharine McPhee (McPheever!) and Mandisa were the best.  It's time for Kinnik to be voted off the island.  There are a few others on the bubble who are around the same talent level, so it's anyone's guess who will get voted off.
  • Adam brought up the question on his blog (Daily Options Report) about "24," But how does he (Jack) escape from being trapped in an exploding bunker, and hop right in his car and beat Christopher Henderson back to his house. By a good ten minutes. Seems unlikely he stopped off at Starbucks on the way home with that suitcase full of cash and CTU onto him. Aha!  Well, turns out that Christopher didn't stop at Starbucks, but called his banker and asked for access to his vault. Of course, how come that only took about 15 minutes? These folks whisk around LA and get things done in nanoseconds...
  • Tuesday, March 07, 2006


    • I did it.  I uninstalled the Google toolbar and installed the Yahoo toolbar (beta version with tabs and such).  I feel like a new man.  It's like having a do-over.  A fresh start.  (I'm exaggerating, but giving Yahoo a chance.  So far, so good).  I have it customized even.  (I'm a "power user."  LOL)
    • One of the way mortgage brokers are trying to get folks into homes, is the 40-year fixed loan.  This results in a lower monthly payment, but stretches the debt along for another 10 years beyond the traditional 30-yr fixed.  I've heard some say that it's just ridiculous and that folks will never pay off their homes.  But isn't the average time folks live in their homes before selling about 5 years?  What's the difference on the amortization tables over 5 years on a 30 vs. a 40?  I'm guessing out loud here... Not much?
    • I don't know what the odds are of my 3000 song MP3 player playing the same song back-to-back while set to "random play," but it just happened.  Maybe I should go buy a lotto ticket or head to the Indian Casino.  Or maybe it's just that my MP3 player sucks.

    • Barry Bonds on steroids?  Barry Bonds' steroid use began in 1998 and continued through his 73-homer season, according to an upcoming book.  Some sports TV guy covered this allegation earlier, and was showing pictures over Bonds' career.  Said Bonds has a "pumpkin head" now.  Hah.
    • Miami Dolphins released Junior Seau...
    • Still working on a stock scan for small caps.  Eh, uh, eh.  I've been real busy at the Fun Factory, which has recently been bleeding into my home life.  Not much time outside work to do much else.  Including working on a small cap trading system.   (I have the Black Box for market trends, my big caps and ETFs.)  I know the saying that no one should take work home with them, but that's kind of who I am.  I always do things full blast.  And I'm totally engaged here at work, so it's a part of my life.
    • (Well, I do find time to do the important things like watch 24 and American Idol.  Although for the latter I do have the PC on...  And I am behind in The Apprentice, Battlestar Galactica and Saturday Night Live.   I may have to get a bigger hard drive for my PC to hold all those recordings!)
    • Eh, uh, eh.  I'm leafin' work...

    Tuesday Misc (Kirby Puckett, Stocks, 24, Etc.)

    • Kirby Puckett was only 44.   From the website (linked to in the pic):  Kirby Puckett, the roly-poly center fielder whose exuberant love of the game made him one of the best-loved players in baseball history, batted .318 over his 12-year career and led the Minnesota Twins to two unlikely World Championships.
    • The stock market looked horrible today, but I'm going to stick to my pre-options week them for now.  It seems that if the week before options is weak, the market makes some sort of turnaround mid-week (lets say wed-thurs) and rallies into expiration.  I'm sure there are real worries out there with Texas Instruments weighing on semis and tech, and long term rates breaking resistance.  Another thing on the radar (that everyone is aware of) is the election year cycle.  More on that later.
    • I still haven't watched The Apprentice, but the recorder has been going...  One of these nights.  Oh, and The Amazing Race starts tonight!  (Against American Idol...).   Too many things to watch, and only one DVR....

    • On 24 last night, it was the end of Edgar Stiles.  CTU (Jack and his merry band of counter terrorists) stopped a gas attack at a hospital.  But then CTU itself was attacked, leaving Jack and costars trapped in sealed rooms!  The show closed with the tech slueth Edgar meeting the end of his series run.
    • Viewership for The Oscars was down 8% from last year.  I didn't watch it.  I did see Crash on DVD, but none of the other films.  I'd like to see Walk the Line.  Oh, I saw Wallace and Grommit.  CHEEEEEESE.
    • Verizon says it's going to let folks control their Tivo from their Verizon phone.  Is that a big draw?  It'd be convenient sometimes, but don't most folks set up their DVDs to record a series of shows?  I think a Slingbox client for Windows Mobile would be more cool...

    Monday, March 06, 2006

    Pre-options Week Blahs!

    • The market? Well the monthly strength period ended with a whimper, and now we're in the week before options expiration.  Not unusual to see weakness this week, setting up for an options week rally.  Texas Instruments announced some lowered guidance afterhours, though.  Maybe setting the table...  Eh, we'll see.
    • Have you seen Eddie Van Halen lately?  Holy smokes.  Looks horrible.  I'd include a pic, but...  Go see for yourself.
    • Monday night?  24!  Of course, I still haven't watched last week's Apprentice or Battlestar Galactica.  GOOD GRIEF.
    • I spent an hour updating software on my Treo today.  It was rebooting all the time.  For no good reason.  I finaly upgraded the ROM to the latest version.  Not without hiccups, but the 2nd time through the update process worked and now I'm back in business.  Seems faster and more responsive.
    • My trading indicators work well with ETFs and large caps.  So I spent a few hours this morning working on some scans for small caps.  Eh, still in the tuning stage.  The big cap strategy I use doesn't work with the small caps.  So I'm muckin' around with different things.  Just to get ideas.  I'm happy with the Black Box I have.  Seems to work well enough.  Just had some time today.

    Sunday, March 05, 2006

    Sunday? (Cramer, Telechart, Replay AV)

    Greg Goldstein, president of Long Island-based broker-dealer Marquee Investment Capital, agreed. "All of sudden, if they don't sell fast enough, once the buying stops, they're dead," Goldstein said. "People have to be careful. If you can afford to lose money, there's nothing wrong with it. But a lot of people don't want to do their homework."

    • I use Telechart for my stock scans. It's relatively affordable for the end-of-day data that I use. The website is great with video tutorials and forums. Plus, a Google search provides lots more info.
    • I use Replay Radio to record radio shows and manage podcasts. Just upgraded to Replay A/V. It allows me to record via the stream rather than by what's coming out the sound card, so I can record mulitple things at the same time. Plus record video. I listen to radio shows when driving or working out.
    • I hope Greg Goldstein doesn't mind if I borrow that phrase. (If you can afford to lose money, there's nothing wrong with it.) Too funny.

    • Snappy Caption idea: United States President George Bush seemed a bit confused at the game of Cricket. "The first thing I had to get in my head, was that this game of Cricket has nothing to do with actual crickets."
    • Crash wins! That was a good movie...

    • The 10 Strangest Accessories for an Ipod. Ipod bed.... Ipod vibrator... Etc.
    • You know, the sun came out here for a week in February and the temperatures went up into the low 70's. Since then, we've returned to winter and rain storms. This whole week? Nothing but rain. Good flippin' grief.

    Fun Factory Code Monkey

    I went in to work on Saturday, because our project deadline is at the end of the month. One of the issues I'm having with the project is that our customers and analysts don't seem to be subject matter experts. This is resulting in requirements changes left and right. We've already been through design walkthroughs, which were fine before "new discoveries." My team has already started coding, so every change results in work stoppage, clarifying and modifying our design, and then heading back to the coding. This is a slow and time-consuming process.

    In addition, the normally conflict-free Fun Factory has become a bit more contentious in previous weeks. Easy-going managers and leads are suddenly facing off in meetings. People are working long hours. People are tired. I understand the frustration, and with this group of folks I know that their inner-calm selves will come to the surface soon.

    There is a high probability that the product that we deliver at month-end is not going to meet the ever-changing requirements. I've come to accept this over the past week. I'm trying to design software that is extremely flexible and takes into consideration that the landscape is constantly changing. The unfortuate part of this is that two of my programmers are relatively newbies. I'm spending the bulk of my time working with them and trying to maximize their potential. Unfortunately, since they have limited experience, their code is less flexible. I'm working on that. Three of my veteran programmers have expressed frustration and concern about the March date. I've passed that reality to management, and joined in on raising the red flag. That's all we can do.

    I was hoping to stay out of the programming this project, or play a minor role at most. But once again, here I am playing the role of Code Monkey. I like coding. But after doing it for so long, I've found that I like working with other programmers and helping them become better. None of what I'm doing negates the need for me to help my team. But the deadline is in a few weeks... Code little monkey, code!

    Friday, March 03, 2006

    TGIF! (Market and Random Stuff)

    Pet me, Muck.

    • I think we should call this week in the stock market "6 Flags at Wall St." because of the rollercoaster volatility.  Price and volume look good for the bulls, me thinks.  I'm still surprised by the bearishness out there.  I was perusing some IHUB boards, and those folks mostly seem apocalyptic.  I've noticed that they seem to be on the wrong side of the investing tracks year 'round.
    • So tired.  It was raining here last night and I couldn't sleep.  My cat couldn't sleep either, so she constantly badgered me last night.  Don't have the heart to throw her out at night in the rain.  But the thought did cross my mind.  More than once. 
    • Good column by Barry Ritholz on why he views the short-term as bullish.  Actually, it's an outstanding column! 
    • Netflix flicks...  I got the Enron movie for this weekend.  Looking forward to it. 
    • I wonder how many California high school seniors could find Dubai on a map?  Seriously, this issue of who controls the US ports is going to be a very interesting election-year spitball.  And you know that it's going to be overblown, overspun, and probably wildly ignored by more than just CA high school seniors.
    • I was reading (somewhere) that CA's population growth is mostly due to immigration and children of immigrants.  Generally, I'd guess that this means the population increases are coming from the poorest among us.  Meanwhile, we have the baby boomers about to retires.  I'm just wondering how the tax structure of CA is going to hold up with all these folks depending on more government services.  Just wondering outloud.
    • TGIF!  (Hey, I know I said that earlier but now I'm taking off!)


    TGIF! (Jessica Alba, Debt Ceiling)

    • Jessica Alba is on the cover of the March issue of Playboy.  But be warned, there are no pictures of her "Fantastic Two" on the inside... A Playboy spokeswoman said Alba was placed on the cover after being chosen "sexiest star of the year" by its readers.
    • She's 24, soon to be 25 on April 28th.
    • She will be in both sequels to Sin City and Fantastic Four.  I didn't like Sin City that much, and I only liked Fantastic Four because it surpassed my low expectations.  Into the Blue was a decent movie.  And who can forget her as Honey Daniels in Honey?

    • The Senate has to vote to increase the debt ceiling by another $781 billion.  It's currently $7.2 trillion.  I can't even fathom that number.   ...without an increase in the government's ability to borrow, it would default on obligations for the first time in history sometime during the week of March 20. That is an unthinkable prospect that would roil financial markets and damage the government's credit rating.
    • "Empire of Debt."
    • Oh, TGIF!

    Thursday, March 02, 2006

    Thursday's Random Thoughts

    • Thank God Brenna is gone!  Now she can go make money.  Doing what, I have no idea.  Heather Cox was the other American Idol wannabe voted off the girls' island.  Both were deserving, as was Kinnik who probably doesn't have much longer.
    • The market?  Well!  Neither here nor there.  The trend is in tact.  You know, sometimes the best thing to do is just be patient and let it happen.  I tend to look for big moves in either direction to adjust my portfolio beta, but haven't seen a reason to adjust anything recently.  I'm just staying long. 
    • I'm watching the late Cramervision replay on CNBC.  I haven't checked to see what happened afterhours to his daily tout.

    • David crooned his way off American Idol this week.  Last week's Crazy Little Thing Called Love was bad enough, but this week he sang Frank.  Frank is classic, but American Idol is about pop (rock or country).  Sway didn't persuade enough folks to vote for him.   Both were very deserving.   I'm sure Peter Brady and Chicken Little have lots to worry about this next week.
    • Remember when thursday nights used to be Must See TV night?  What the heck happened?
    • Another study out saying to eat whole grains to avoid diabetes and heart disease risk.  You know, seems to me we keep studying the obvious.  Why not study candy eating studies?  It's obvious that low-fat diets high in whole grains and veggies is the way to go for health.
    • Ever wonder how all of those Jim Cramer picks perform?

    Wednesday, March 01, 2006

    Ashes Ashes We All Fall Down!

    • Finaly March, and Ash Wednesday, too.

    • The market? Holy smokes! Today feels like we just shot out of a cannon. The Investors Intelligence survey came out showing the percentage of bears at its highest level since March 2003. Just take a look at what happened to the stock market back then. It was the end of the bear market and the start of a big rally. I don't know why everyone is bearish when the market is near the rally highs. Usually it happens when the market is selling off. I still think we're going to see the sea change from bearish to bullish this month, so maybe that's what pushes us higher as the bears give up. We shall see... And it's March, which is normally a good month.

    • None of the American Idol singers last night were outstanding, but gotta love that Kellie Pickler. I recorded The Amazing Race, so I'll watch it over the weekend...

    • Two weeks until March Madness.

    • The Fun Factory has been extremely demanding lately. That's the only way to say it. I'm swamped...